A young person having a health check at Centrepoint.

It's time to talk about mental health

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

Mental health problems affect one in four of us during our lifetimes. So why are people are still afraid to talk about it?

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 about mental health can create prejudice, which leads 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.

Peoples’ mental health is shaped by a wide range of factors, including their social, economic and physical environment. Many of these issues leave young people at Centrepoint vulnerable to discrimination.

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


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% cent 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.

Centrepoint's mental health work

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 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 stigma can prevent people from applying for or keeping jobs - something that is at the heart of Centrepoint’s mission. So we need to remove shame and stigma to get young people talking about how they are feeling.

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 about mental health in a number of ways, including confidential drop ins, group workshops and sessions to improve emotional understanding.

Our Health team also provides 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 and improve their chance of living independently.

How you can help

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 are struggling? Many people either have very little or inaccurate information about mental health or cautious attitudes about people who experience difficulties.

By raising awareness and starting conversations, we can challenge stereotypes and 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.

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 discussion about mental health, 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.

Helpful contacts

Emergency services

If you see a young person 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 to help manage 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