Mental Health stigma is changing

Latest research shows a record number of people in England saying they would be willing to live, work and have a relationship with someone who has experience of a mental health problem. Public attitudes have also improved by 6% over the last three years since phase 2 of Time to Change began, which equates to more than 2.5 million people with improved attitudes

The survey asks a number of questions to track how public attitudes are changing over time. In 2009, questions were introduced to measure the public’s intended behaviour towards people with mental health problems. In this most recent study levels of reported and intended behaviour have reached their highest level since then:• 9% increase in willingness to live with someone with a mental health problem (57% to 66%)• 8% increase in willingness to live nearby to someone with a mental health problem (72% to 80%)• 7% willingness to continue a relationship with a friend who had a mental health problem (82% to 89%)• 7% increase in willingness to work with someone with a mental health problem (69% to 76%).

The number of people acknowledging that they know someone close who has had a mental illness increased from 58% in 2009 to 65% in 2014, possibly the result of decreasing stigma and greater levels of openness about mental health problems amongst the population. Encouragingly, over two thirds (68%) of respondents also said that they now know what advice to give a friend to get professional help for their mental health problem.

Generally, the survey shows that people are becoming more tolerant and understanding of people with mental health issues. Nine in ten people (91%) agreed that we need to adopt a more tolerant attitude towards people with mental health problems in our society, and 78% agreed that people with mental health problems have for too long been the subject of ridicule.

Despite these significant improvements, the statistics also show that there’s more work to be done to reduce mental health stigma and discrimination. Although 40% of people said they would be comfortable talking to their employer about their mental health problems, nearly half (48%) said they would feel uncomfortable. When asked about how to describe someone who has a mental illness, nearly 40% agreed that they are prone to violence, when in reality people are far more likely to be the victims of crime rather than the perpetrator.

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