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UK survey: Views of mental health issues 'more positive'

June 13, 2011
by News release
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Public opinion on a number of mental health issues has become more positive, but some less favorable views still exist, according to anew survey from the NHS Information Centre, an independent provider of health and social care information in the United Kingdom. Findings from
Attitudes to Mental Illness 2011, a survey carried out for the first time in England 17 years ago, suggest more people now view mental health as an illness like any other. But less favourable views on some issues still exist. For example, one in six people believe a main cause of mental illness is lack of self discipline and will-power, about the same level as first reported in 1994. Of the 1,741 adults interviewed in February and March 2011 for the survey:

  • 77 percent said ‘mental illness is an illness like any other' compared to 71 percent in 1994.

  • 70 percent would be comfortable talking to their family and friends about their mental health, compared to 66 percent in 2009 (the first year this question was asked)

  • 43 percent would be uncomfortable talking their employer about their mental health, compared to 50 percent in 2010 (the first year this question was asked).

Despite this reported increase in positive views, some people surveyed hold a less favourable view of people with mental health issues:

  • Only one in four would trust a woman who had ever been in a mental hospital to babysit a child.

  • 17 percent think having a mental health facility in a residential area downgraded the neighborhood

  • 16 percent believe one of the main causes of mental illness is lack of self-discipline and will-power.

According to Tim Straughan, NHS Information Centre chief executive, the report "paints a mixed picture of attitudes towards people with mental health issues, which may be of particular interest given the number of high-profile awareness campaigns and celebrity stories about this subject."

“While the percentage of people who would feel comfortable talking to a friend or family member about their mental health has increased in recent times, the report also highlights less favorable views that still exist in the population," Straughan added.

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