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Report highlights mental health discrimination

This post is about 1 year old

Survey is most extensive research into mental health stigma in Scotland for five years.

More than half of Scots with mental health problems have been stigmatised or discriminated, a study has found.

The study revealed that 56% of those affected had faced discrimination, with the majority coming from friends, family members and work colleagues.

Among people who haven’t experienced mental health problems, 37% have witnessed mental health stigma or discrimination, most commonly on traditional and social media, in schools and on public transport.

More than a quarter - 27% - would not want a person who has a mental health problem to take care of their child, and 11% said they would not be willing to have a relationship with someone with a mental health problem.

However there are signs of improvements, with 79% of respondents saying they think public perceptions of mental health problems have improved over the past ten years. And 85% agreed that it is possible to have a mental health problem and live a meaningful life.

The poll of over 2000 people, carried out by Censuswide for See Me, the programme to end mental health discrimination, is part of the most extensive research into mental health stigma in Scotland for over five years.

See Me has teamed up with TV presenter Gail Porter, who recently released a documentary about her mental health journey, to call for people across Scotland to be confident in recognising stigma and discrimination and knowing how to take action when they see it.

Porter said: “While I was enjoying a successful career on television, I was experiencing serious mental health illness, but at the time there was still a real stigma around the subject so I had to smile and carry on as normal. Hiding it like this just made things worse.

“In those days, the media often labelled people ‘mad’ or similar derogatory terms, there was a stigma and discrimination around mental health that could quickly destroy your career. These days, it’s great that mental health is something that is talked about more openly and positively and the stigma has been reduced significantly but I think there’s a long way to go.”

Minister for mental health Clare Haughey welcomed the report. She said: “It is encouraging that 79% of people who were surveyed think that public perceptions of mental health problems have improved in the last 10 years - and that over half of respondents would feel confident to challenge mental health stigma and discrimination, especially when they have been the recipient of such stigma themselves.

“Whilst we can’t establish direct cause and effect in relation to such improvements, I am confident that See Me’s work has played a significant part in these positive changes in public perception, along with complementary awareness-raising action by other partners such as Breathing Space, NHS Health Scotland, and the Scottish Recovery Network.”

To accompany the new study, See Me has released a new digital resource designed to help people to see how they can tackle stigma and discrimination.

Wendy Halliday, See Me interim director, said: “Our research shows that 55% of people feel confident to challenge stigma and discrimination, but we need that number to be much higher, so no one is treated unfairly when they’re struggling.

“We need you to make a difference today. Knowing what to say and do isn’t easy, so we’ve released a brand new resource, the Journey of a Social Movement, where you can see how people like you have been challenging stigma and discrimination in their communities, with their friends and family, in their workplaces, at school and in health care.



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