More people see mental health problems as an illness like any other, according to a new survey.
The NHS Information Centre found 77% now view mental health in that way, up from 71% when the survey first took place in England in 1994.
But some negative views still exist, according to the Attitudes to Mental Illness 2011 report. For example, 17% of the 1,741 adults questioned in February and March think having a mental health facility in a residential area downgrades the neighbourhood.
Overall, the report said:
- 77% said “mental illness is an illness like any other” compared to 71% in 1994.
- 70% would be comfortable talking to their family and friends about their mental health, compared to 66% in 2009 (the first year this question was asked)
- 43% would be uncomfortable talking their employer about their mental health, compared to 50% in 2010 (the first year this question was asked).
- But some less favourable views were also held by people:
- Only one in four would trust a woman who had ever been in a mental hospital to babysit a child.
- 17% think having a mental health facility in a residential area downgraded the neighbourhood
- 16% believe one of the main causes of mental illness is lack of self-discipline and will-power.
NHS Information Centre chief executive Tim Straughan said: “This report paints a mixed picture of attitudes towards people with mental health issues, which may be of particular interest given the number of high-profile awareness campaigns and celebrity stories about this subject.
“While the percentage of people who would feel comfortable talking to a friend or family member about their mental health has increased in recent times, the report also highlights less favourable views that still exist in the population - for example, one in six people believe a main cause of mental illness is lack of self discipline and will-power, about the same level as first reported in 1994.”
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