Attitudes to mental illness survey shows some improvement but more work needed

iStock_000016599766XSmall survey questionnaire

The NHS Information Centre has published a report that presents the findings of a survey of attitudes towards mental illness among adults in England undertaken in 2011.

The 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 other topics including 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.

Key facts

The report highlighted some significant changes over time. Some key changes include:

  • The percentage of people agreeing that ‘Mental illness is an illness like any other’ increased from 71% in 1994 (the first year this question was asked) to 77% in 2011, although this figure is little changed in recent years.
  • The percentage saying they would be comfortable talking to a friend or family member about their mental health, for example telling them they had a mental health diagnosis and how it affects them, rose from 66% in 2009 (the first year the question was asked) to 70% in 2011.
  • The percentage saying they would feel uncomfortable talking their employer about their mental health was 43%, compared to 50% in 2010 (the first year this question was asked)

In addition, other results for 2011 include:

  • 25% of respondents agreed that ‘Most women who were once patients in a mental hospital can be trusted as babysitters’.
  • Agreement that one of the main causes of mental illness is a lack of self-discipline and will-power stands at 16%.
  • The percentage of people saying that locating mental health facilities in a residential area downgrades the neighbourhood stood at 17%.

Attitudes to mental illness: 2011 survey report. NHS Information Centre, 8 June 2011.

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Andre Tomlin

Andre Tomlin

André started the Mental Elf website in May 2011. He has worked as an Information Scientist in Mental Health since the late nineties; initially at Oxford University's Centre for Evidence-Based Mental Health and since 2002 as the Managing Director of Minervation Ltd. He loves blogging, social media and elves! He also has established interests in evidence-based healthcare, usability testing and web design.

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