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Public more sympathetic towards people with mental health problems


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Care Services Minister Phil Hope said: ‘There’s no question that even now in the 21st century, prejudiced and outdated attitudes to mental health problems still exist, leading to discrimination and social exclusion.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.’


Readers' comments (2)

  • carol hannah

    Attitudes are starting to change towards mental health. However, more needs to be done to raise public awareness. MHFA England have a new training course available which gives people the knowledge and skills to provide mental health first aid to friends, colleagues and the members of the public. This course raises the awareness of mental health, the impact it has on people's lives and helps to reduce the associated stigma and discrimination.

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  • Creating courses to broaden peoples horizons on mental health may work due to the fascination society has on people with mental illnesses but on the other hand, due to history of people not understanding mental health, many others do not want to learn more on the topic and prefer to keep away from 'such people' In today's society we still have many things to learn and understand about mental health issues so why does the care sector get cut when government is telling us to accept people with mental health issues and expect that many communities will accept them when nothing is actually known about their health? This frightens people for many reasons?

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