Scotland

Survey reveals prevalence of mental health stigma

Stressed woman Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption The survey revealed that nearly a quarter of people have experienced a mental health problem

Almost 50% of people would not want others to know if they had a mental health problem, a survey has suggested.

The study, commissioned by the Scottish government, showed that more than a quarter of people have experienced a mental health problem.

However, the results suggested that stigma towards mental health conditions still exists.

Almost 40% of respondents had experienced negative social impact as a result of their mental health.

Depression was the most common mental health condition suffered by respondents.

The Scottish Social Attitudes Survey was commissioned by the government to find out how attitudes are changing over time. It builds on previous surveys, the last of which was carried out in 2008.

'Talk about it'

Of the 26% of people who had experienced a mental health condition, 22% said they had avoided a social event because they were scared of how they would be treated, while 13% said they had been discouraged from attending by someone else.

A total of 85% had talked to someone about their mental health problem - a fall compared with the 88% of people who said they had discussed it with someone else in 2008.

In 2008, 44% of people said they would not want anyone to know if they were suffering from a mental health problem. In the most recent survey, this figure increased slightly to 47%.

A total of 37% of people had also experienced negative social impact resulting from their mental health - an increase on the 2008 figure of 23%.

Of the 1,500 people surveyed, 22% said they would not be willing to interact with someone with schizophrenia.

The campaign group See Me, funded by the Scottish government, aims to tackle mental health stigma and discrimination. It has just launched an anti-stigma campaign called "People like YOU will end mental health stigma and discrimination".

Public Health Minister Michael Matheson said: "This survey shows us that unfortunately there is still some stigma surrounding mental health. For that reason it's all the more important that the Scottish government continues our work to reduce the stigma suffered by people with mental health conditions.

"The best way to start to deal with a mental health problem is to talk about it. Also, if more people talk about their problems this will help to spread greater understanding and tolerance.

"This could be talking it through with a friend or family member, or going to your GP. There are treatments available that will help you to deal with your problems."

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