A Scottish mental health report has found that people who experience prejudice in any form are more likely to develop mental health problems than people who do not.
NHS Health Scotland’s Dimensions of Diversity report examined the experiences of different sections of society, including gay people, disabled people, asylum seekers and those from an ethnic minority, and found that poor mental health can arise because of prejudice regardless of an individual’s background.
It also identified a “deep rooted” vein of prejudice in Scotland that was stoked by a fear of diversity which was undermining efforts to improve the nation’s mental health.
The report said: “Scotland is still home to deeply rooted prejudice based on fear, perhaps even dislike, of difference.
“There is a repeated finding of diminished mental health because of the pervasive and insidious effects upon well-being of experiencing personal prejudice.” Creating opportunities for people to mix can undermine prejudice, the report said. This will be helped by “the shared search for solutions, whether that be adequate housing, responsive healthcare or healthy choices in the local shop”.
“Only a few lucky individuals will not encounter mental and physical challenges in their lives,” the report said.
Dr David Gordon, lead author of the report and former head of the public health observatory division at NHS Health Scotland, said: “It is important that those working to reduce health inequalities are able to consider more carefully what impact diversity may have on people’s health and their health needs. We hope this report will help them do that.”