Breaking the taboo: It's time to talk about mental health

Story highlights

  • Mental health continues to carry a stigma says Sue Baker
  • Discrimination can be worse than the illness itself, she says
  • Talking about mental health can make a big difference

Sue Baker is director of Time to Change, the British mental health anti-stigma program run by Mind and Rethink Mental Illness. Here, she writes for CNN on World Mental Health Day. The opinions expressed in this report are solely hers.

(CNN)On World Mental Health Day, around the globe many of us, perhaps hundreds of thousands or even millions, will be raising awareness of mental health issues to challenge outdated views, and to put an end to life-limiting, and sometimes life-threatening, stigma and discrimination that's still attached to having a mental health problem in so many countries and communities.

Sue Baker
As mental health is a global issue so, sadly, is mental health stigma, shame and discrimination.
    According to the World Health Organization, approximately 450 million people worldwide have a mental illness. In Britain, the figures show that one in four of us will be affected by mental health problems, yet despite touching the lives of so many, people still come up against negative reactions when they disclose their illness, which makes speaking out and seeking the support they need much harder than it needs to be.
    In reality, nine in 10 people tell us at Time to Change that they face stigma and discrimination because of their mental health problem. What's more, over half (58%) say that stigma and discrimination is as bad as or worse than the illness itself.
    Managing a mental health problem can be difficult enough, just like managing a long-term physical health problem can, but imagine not feeli