Rethink Mental Illness

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Rethink Mental Illness
RethinkMentalIllnesslogo250 250.jpg
Founded 1972 (1972)
Type Charity
Registration no. 271028
Focus Mental disorder
Area served
Key people
CEO Mark Winstanley
£50.9m (2013)[1]
Slogan Challenging attitudes, changing lives
Mission to help
Formerly called
National Schizophrenia Fellowship; Rethink

Rethink Mental Illness is a mental health charity in England. The organisation was founded in 1972 by relatives of people diagnosed with schizophrenia, following an article by a journalist whose son had been diagnosed. The operating name of 'Rethink' was adopted in 2002 but the charity remains registered as the National Schizophrenia Fellowship, although it no longer focuses only on schizophrenia. The operating name was expanded in 2011 to be more self-explanatory.[2]

Rethink now has over 8,300 members, who receive a regular magazine called Your Voice. The charity states that it helps 48,000 people every year, and is for caregivers as well as those with a mental disorders. It provides services (mainly community support, including supported housing projects), support groups, and information through a helpline and publications. The Rethink website receives almost 300,000 visitors every year. Rethink carries out some survey research which informs both their own and national mental health policy, and it actively campaigns against stigma and for change through greater awareness and understanding. It is a member organisation of EUFAMI, the European Federation of Families of People with Mental Illness.

Mark Winstanley is the chief executive. [3] He succeeded Paul Jenkins in March 2014.[4][5]


Rethink Mental Illness was instrumental in promoting the new early psychosis paradigm in 1995 when they linked with an early psychosis network in the West Midlands, called IRIS (Initiative to reduce impact of schizophrenia).[6][7] This then led to the Early Psychosis Declaration by the World Health Organization[8] and the subsequent formation of early psychosis services as part of mainstream health policy.[9][10]

Amongst its recent campaigns Rethink has urged the government to look at the mental health risks of cannabis, rather than "fiddle with its legal status". Cannabis was downgraded from a Class B to a Class C drug in 2004, making most cases of possession non-arrestable. However, Rethink wants government support for new research into the relationship between severe mental illness and cannabis.[11] They have publicly stated, in response to George Michael's advocacy of the drug, that cannabis is the drug "most likely to cause mental illness".

Rethink was both criticised and congratulated for commissioning a statue of Sir Winston Churchill in a straitjacket, which was unveiled in The Forum building in Norwich on 11 March 2006. This was part of Rethink's first anti-stigma regional campaign. The statue was intended to show how people in today's society are stigmatised by mental illness, based on claims that Churchill suffered from depression and perhaps bipolar disorder.[12] However, the statue was condemned by Churchill's family, and described by Sir Patrick Cormack as an insult both to the former prime minister and to people with mental health problems. Although straitjackets have not been used in UK psychiatric hospitals for decades, a sufferer from bipolar disorder identified with "the straitjacket of mental illness" and commended the image. Nevertheless, in response to the complaints, the statue was removed.[13]

In 2009 Rethink launched Time to Change, a campaign to reduce mental health discrimination in England, in collaboration with MIND.[14]


Rethink Mental Illness sets out annually its financial situation in its Trustees' Annual Report. They report as follows:

Year Total Income
2014 £48.5m[15]
2013 £50.9m[1]
2012 £52.9m[1]
2011 £54.3m[16]

Rethink Mental Illness has an annual income of just under £48.5 million, according to its Annual Report and Financial Statements for the year ended March 2014.[17] The vast majority of the funding is from the UK government ("statutory" sources including local governmental health and social care bodies).

Some of Rethink's research that it uses to guide its campaigns, services and service users has been funded in partnership with pharmaceutical companies.[18][19] The 2011 annual report and financial statements mention AstraZeneca and Lundbeck as supporters or partners, and funding from other pharmaceutical companies in previous years is acknowledged on the charity's website. The charity reported total funding of £235,000 from six pharmaceutical companies and further gifts in kind from three in 2006–2007,[20] and £110,000 in 2008–2009.[21] Rethink informed a government committee in 2004 that it works in partnership with pharmaceutical companies and industry bodies and that, in addition to donations, it has for many years accepted pharmaceutical sponsorship of its publications, events and local projects. The then chief executive stated that all sources of funding come with bias and strings attached, that pharmaceutical funding is only a small minority of overall income, and that government funding is the top source of undue and improper influence on organisations.[22] Rethink publishes its policy on sponsorship which states that pharmaceutical sponsorship should not exceed 1% of turnover; in the accounts cited above, it was well below this level.[21]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c
  2. ^ Gareth Jones, Rethink rebrands to clarify its role, 19 September 2011. Retrieved 23 September 2011.
  3. ^
  4. ^ "Rethink: New chief executive pledges to put mental health in the mainstream". Press release (Press release). 27 September 2006. Archived from the original on 21 January 2008. Retrieved 23 September 2011. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ Bertolote J, McGorry P (August 2005). /s116.full.pdf+html "Early intervention and recovery for young people with early psychosis: consensus statement" Check |url= value (help) (PDF). Br J Psychiatry Suppl 48 (48): s116–9. doi:10.1192/bjp.187.48.s116. PMID 16055800. Retrieved 23 September 2011. 
  7. ^ History of the Early Psychosis Declaration, Retrieved 23 September 2011.
  8. ^ Early Psychosis Declaration, IRIS. Retrieved 23 September 2011.
  9. ^ Early Intervention development programme, IRIS. Retrieved 23 September 2011.
  10. ^ IRIS Initiative in the UK, California Council of Community Mental Health Agencies. (registration required) Retrieved 23 September 2011.
  11. ^ "Charity urges rethink on cannabis". BBC News. 4 January 2006. Retrieved 22 May 2010. 
  12. ^ Gray, John (23 September 2011). "Churchill, chance and the 'black dog'". BBC Magazine. Retrieved 25 September 2011. 
  13. ^ "Charity removes Churchill statue". BBC News. 13 March 2006. Retrieved 22 May 2010. 
  14. ^ Henderson, Claire; Corker, Elizabeth; Lewis-Holmes, Elanor; Hamilton, Sarah (1 May 2012). "England's Time to Change Antistigma Campaign: One-Year Outcomes of Service User-Rated Experiences of Discrimination". Psychiatric Services (American Psychiatric Association) 63 (5). doi:10.1176/ Retrieved 13 November 2013. 
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^ Astrazeneca Sponsors Service User- Involvement In Research Into Recovery For Mental Health, Medical News Today, 16 July 2008. Retrieved 23 September 2011.
  19. ^ Rethink’s E-learning for medical professionals project, Rethink, November 2009. Retrieved 23 September 2011.
  20. ^ "Pharmaceutical industry support". Rethink. 18 February 2008. Archived from the original on 2008-06-16. Retrieved 2011-09-23. 
  21. ^ a b Pharmaceutical industry support, Rethink. Accessed 23 September 2011.
  22. ^ The Influence of the Pharmaceutical Industry, House of Commons Health Committee, 25 November 2004. Retrieved 23 September 2011.

External links[edit]