Report: Attitudes to Mental Illness
Mental Health News
Today, Rethink Mental Illness, along with Mind, have published the Attitudes to Mental Illness report, an annual survey, funded by the Department of Health that looks at the changing attitudes to mental illness amongst adults in England.
The aim of this survey, which is commissioned by our jointly run anti-stigma programme Time to Change, is to monitor changes in public attitudes towards mental illness over time. For this survey, 1727 adults (aged 16+) were interviewed in England in December 2012. The survey questionnaire included a number of statements about mental illness.
Respondents were asked to indicate how much they agreed or disagreed with each statement. Other questions covered a range of topics such as descriptions of people with mental illness, relationships with people with mental health problems, personal experience of mental illness, and perceptions of mental health-related stigma and discrimination.
The main changes between 1994 – 2012 include:
Acceptance of people with mental illness taking public office and being given responsibility has grown: the percentage agreeing that ‘People with mental illness should not be given any responsibility’ has decreased from 17% in 1994 to 10% in 2012 and the percentage agreeing that ‘Anyone with a history of mental problems should be excluded from public office’ decreased from 29% to 18% in the same period
Attitudes towards integrating people with mental illness into the community have generally improved since 1994. For example, agreement with ‘The best therapy for many people with mental illness is to be part of a normal community’ has increased from 76% in 1994 to 81% in 2012, and agreement with ‘No-one has the right to exclude people with mental illness from their neighbourhood’ has increased from 76% in 1994 to 83% in 2012. Similarly, agreement that ‘People with mental health problems should have the same rights to a job as anyone else’ has increased from 66% in 2003 (when this question was first asked) to 77% in 2012
Since 2009, when questions about intended behaviour were first asked, there has been a marked increase in the proportion of people who say they would be willing to continue a relationship with a friend with a mental health problem (82% to 86%), willing to work with someone with a mental health problem (69% to 75%) and who would be willing to live nearby to someone with a mental health problem (72% to 77%). There were also significant increases on these questions from 2011 to 2012
The proportion of people saying they know someone close to them who has had some kind of mental illness has increased from 58% in 2009 to 63% in 2012
The percentage of people who would be willing in the future to continue a relationship, work with, live with or live nearby someone with a mental health problem is at the highest level since starting tracking in 2009. These suggest a marked positive change in attitudes relating to intended behaviour
A consistent finding over time is that women generally express more positive and tolerant attitudes towards mental illness than men
As people age, they show increasing understanding and tolerance of mental illness, while younger people show the lowest levels of wanting social exclusion
Download the complete report.