A new survey recently released by the U.K.’s Department of Health showed that 1 in 8 people would not want to live next door to someone with a mental illness.
Mental health charity Rethink has branded the findings on attitudes towards people with mental health problems as “shocking, ignorant, and unacceptable in today’s society.”
In addition to the 1-in-8 finding, the Department of Health’s survey data showed that:
- Nearly six out of ten people describe a person with a mental illness as “someone who has to be kept in a psychiatric or mental hospital”
- One third of people think that people with mental health problems should not have the same rights to a job as everyone else
- Only 31% of people think that mental hospitals are an outdated means of treating people
“These findings show just how bad the situation can be for people with mental health problems,” said Paul Corry, Rethink’s director of public affairs.
“Archaic, bigoted opinions about mental illness still prevail and clearly demonstrate the urgent need for action to change people’s views. It is particularly disappointing to see the deterioration in people’s tolerance towards people with mental illness.”
Rethink research for Moving People has found that nearly nine out of 10 people with mental health problems have been affected by stigma and discrimination, with two thirds saying they have stopped doing things because of the stigma they face.
Corry noted, “The Moving People anti-stigma campaign will lay firm foundations for ending mental health discrimination in the UK, but long term it is essential that the government plows hefty resources into tackling the problem, as has been done in Scotland and New Zealand. The government could also lead by example and employ more people with mental health problems within its departments, and encourage other public sector bodies to do the same.”
Janey Antoniou, who has schizophrenia, recalls one example of the stigma she encountered: “I had a neighbor who used to run inside when she saw me because she had seen me taken to the hospital by the police in my dressing gown. The fact that I’d walked down the road with a briefcase thousands of times seemed irrelevant.”
Rethink, on behalf of anti-stigma coalition group Moving People, is in the process of devising an anti-stigma marketing campaign which aims to reach 30 million people across England in an attempt to challenge attitudes and change behavior. The anti-stigma marketing campaign will be launched in January 2009.