A young person having a health check at Centrepoint.


Elena Derbyshire, Mental Health Advisor at Centrepoint, explains how we can challenge mental health stigma and how we can get people talking about mental health in an open and accepting way.

Mental health problems affect one in four of us during our lifetimes. Despite this, people still seem afraid to talk about it, even when they're worried about someone's mental health.

The stigma surrounding mental health issues is still very powerful. When an individual’s mental health becomes their label, they can become part of a stereotyped group. Negative attitudes and mental health stigma can create prejudice. This can lead to significant issues for homeless young people.

Nearly one in five people will experience suicidal thoughts during their lifetime. Worryingly, a staggering 26% of young people report the stigma they face has made them want to give up on life.

People's mental health is shaped by a wide range of factors. Mental health symptoms can be experienced due to social, economic and physical environment. Many of these different types of mental health issues leave young people at Centrepoint vulnerable to discrimination.

For some people who are struggling with mental health, not being able to talk about it is one of the worst parts. So by getting people talking about mental health, we can start to break down stereotypes. We can then improve relationships, increase access to support and remove mental health stigma.


Raising awareness of mental health and trying to understand a person's experience is important to provide the right type of support. A Time to Change survey revealed that:

  • 60% of people with a mental health problem waited over a year to tell the people closest to them about it.
  • 40% of people with a mental health problem experience stigma and discrimination on a weekly or monthly basis.
  • 90% of people with mental health problems report that stigma and discrimination have a negative effect on their lives.

Statistics also show that suicide is the largest cause of death for young people under 35. This needs to change.


At Centrepoint, we support more than 10,000 homeless young people a year. This includes a safe place to stay and help to get back into employment, education and training.

Stigma and mental health discrimination can prevent homeless young people from accessing support and treatment. Not only this, but they also isolate young people, leaving them feeling excluded from society.

Research shows that mental health stigma can prevent people from applying for or keeping jobs. This is something that is at the heart of Centrepoint’s mission. There shouldn't be boundaries to getting a job with mental health problems. So we need to remove shame and stigma to get young people openly talking about mental health.

We know it can be difficult to open up for young people who are struggling in these areas. That's why our mental health advisors help improve young peoples’ understanding of how their emotional wellbeing impacts their lives.

We engage young people in conversations to get them talking about mental health. We do this in a number of ways, including confidential drop ins, group workshops and sessions to improve emotional understanding.

Our Health team also provides mental health specialist support for young people on substance use, healthy relationships, psychological therapies and nutrition. This approach ensures young people receive support in all areas of their lives. This in turn helps them improve their chance of living independently.


For many people living with mental health issues, the feeling of shame or embarrassment can leave them feeling isolated and worthless.

But why do people feel ashamed or reluctant to disclose that they're struggling with mental health? Many people either have very little or inaccurate information about mental health or cautious attitudes about people who experience difficulties.

By raising awareness of mental health and getting people talking about mental health, we can challenge stereotypes. We can highlight that mental health is just as important as physical health. Too many lives are lost through the idea we're unable to talk about our feelings.

When it comes to providing mental health support, you can take the lead by starting a conversation. By putting time aside for someone and asking them how they're feeling with no judgement, you can help them access the support they need.

You can also get people together to have a safe and honest talk about mental health. Be open about addressing stereotypes and letting young people know that seeking help is nothing to be ashamed of.

Remember, you don’t have to be an expert to ask someone how they are and reassure them that it’s OK not to be OK.


Emergency services

If you see a young person dealing with mental health who you feel is at high risk, please contact emergency services.

116 123

A safe place for people to talk any time they like, in their own way – about whatever’s getting to them.


An online community offering support and advice on managing mental health.


Emotional support, guidance and information to anyone affected by mental illness, including families, friends and carers.

Time to Talk Day

From coffee and cake mornings to workshops, there are loads of ways of getting people together to talk. Time to Change have some great resources and ideas on their website.

Download free resources