SHIFT was originally launched in 2004 by National Institute for Mental Health in England (NIMHE) as a five-year programme but has now been extended to run until 2011 to work alongside “Time to Change”, a new £18 million charity sector-led anti-stigma and well-being social marketing campaign. SHIFT's work complements that of “Time to Change” by focusing on two key audiences—employers and the media.
The work in employment is aimed at improving the recruitment and retention of people with mental health problems. For example, SHIFT has distributed to public and private sector employers more than 30,000 copies of the SHIFT Line Managers Resource, giving guidance to managers on handling mental health problems in the workplace.
An independent expert panel, the SHIFT review panel, has been set up to review guidance on mental health and employment and help guide employers through the wealth of existing advice. A website signposts employers to the most appropriate resource. The panel, hosted by the Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health, includes experts from academia, business and the public sector.
The work with the media is aimed at improving media coverage of mental health and in particular challenging the link made between severe mental illness and violence.
Guidance on best practice for reporting mental health has been distributed to more than 10,000 journalists. It focuses on covering violence and suicide.
Training on reporting mental illness and suicide is being delivered to postgraduate students at journalism training colleges and the SHIFT Speakers Bureau, a bank of people willing to talk about their real life experiences of mental illness, has become an essential resource for journalists and a way of ensuring that people’s voices are heard.