The public are generally more ‘sympathetic’ towards people with mental health problems a Department of Health survey has found although some attitudes have worsened.
The survey ‘Attitudes to Mental Illness 2009’ showed that 18 per cent of people thought that one of the main causes of mental illness was lack of self discipline and willpower - up from 14 per cent in 2008.
And 11 per cent of people said they would not want to live next door to someone with a mental health problem, an increase from 8 per cent since 1994.
However, 85 per cent of those surveyed thought that people with mental health problems deserve sympathy and approximately the same number said that society needs to be more tolerant towards them.
The survey found that:
- Almost three quarters of those surveyed agreed that people with mental health problems should have the same rights to a job as anyone else;
- 79 per cent agreed that mental health services should be provided through community based facilities;
- Only 15 per cent of respondents feel frightened by people with mental health problems living in residential neighbourhoods.
Some attitudes to mental illness have worsened, according to the survey.
Care Services Minister Phil Hope said: ‘There’s no question that even now in the 21st century, prejudiced and outdated attitudes to mental health problems still exist, leading to discrimination and social exclusion. But this survey shows that some attitudes are starting to change for the better.
‘I want to help create mentally healthier and more resilient communities, but also a culture where if people do develop mental health problems they are accepted. We’ll be consulting on how to do this later this year as part of the New Horizons programme.’