A groundbreaking cause that put mental health firmly on the map will close next year – yet another victim of Government funding cuts.

The Time to Change campaign – backed by the Sunday Mirror and championed by boxing hero Frank Bruno – was launched in 2007, when mental ill health was still a taboo subject.

It was a time when people were afraid to talk about their problems and workers needing time off would tell their boss they had a physical problem instead.

Surveys show that, thanks to Time to Change, 5.4 million UK people now have improved attitudes towards those suffering from mental health problems.

More than 9,000 champions have come forward to share their experiences and 1,600 employers signed a pledge to end discrimination in the workplace.

Some 3,000 secondary schools also got on board the campaign, bringing mental health into lessons and assemblies.

But after the Government announced it will not renew its funding, Time to Change will wind up in March.

Time to Change director Jo Loughran

For the past five years the campaign has been funded by a £12.5million grant from the Department of Health, £5million from Comic Relief and £2.5million from the Big Lottery Fund.

Labour’s shadow mental health minister Dr Rosena Allin-Khan said: “It’s deeply saddening that Time to Change will be closing after 15 years of challenging stigma and attitudes.

“Many will be suffering the effects of job losses and closures within the mental health sector. With NHS services stretched, those left without support rely on charities.

"It is more important than ever the Government ensure we do not see more announcements like this in coming weeks.”

The Sunday Mirror threw its support behind Time to Change in 2013. We fought for proper recognition and better care for people hit by illnesses like depression and bipolar disorder, which has dogged former world champ Bruno, 59.

Time to Change director Jo Loughran said the campaign has “created a strong legacy”.

Dr Rosena Allin-Khan has criticised the move

She said: “More people live their lives to the full without stigma damaging their relationships, education, career and ambitions.

“But certain groups have not felt improvements in public attitudes or behaviour change – those with less understood diagnoses such as schizophrenia or people from black and minority ethnic communities.

“We had hoped to continue to fight for equity and end discrimination. Sadly, we will not be able to carry out this vital work.

"In times of hardship, attitudes towards people with mental health problems tend to deteriorate, so there is a real threat improvements we’ve achieved will slide backwards.”

A Department of Health and Social Care spokeswoman said: “We are working with Time to Change on legacy and sustainability planning so their important progress... continues.

“Mental health has remained an absolute priority with £2.3billion a year by 2023-24 to deliver the most ambitious major expansion and transformation of services ever across England and an additional £10.2million for mental health charities during the pandemic.”