Millions of people with mental illness are unable to do everyday things like going to the shops, making new friends or applying for jobs, groundbreaking research reveals.
The pioneering survey of more than 3,000 people with mental health problems clearly reveals that this includes people you expect to love you unconditionally, your family, (36%), closely followed by employers (35%), neighbours (31%) and friends (25%).
At the other end of the discriminators league table, children (5%), teachers (8%), shopkeepers (10%), and public transport workers (10%) are revealed as the groups who are most accepting of people with mental health problems (for the full league table see notes to editors below).
The findings, which will shape a high-profile £18 million mental health anti-stigma campaign, reveal 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.
- Stigma stops people with mental health problems from doing everyday things such as applying for jobs, making new friends, and going out to pubs and shops. It can even prevent people from reporting a crime.
- People with mental health problems want the anti-stigma campaign to target schools and the media to change attitudes and reduce prejudice.
- Carers of people with mental health problems also stop doing things because of the stigma and discrimination that they face.
Paul Corry, Rethink director of public affairs, says: "Our research clearly shows that stigma and discrimination are ruining people's lives. People with mental health problems have enough on their plates without facing additional pressure caused by other people's archaic and bigoted opinions.
"The Time to Change anti-stigma campaign will lay firm foundations for ending mental health discrimination in the UK, but long term it is essential that the government ploughs hefty resources into tackling the problem, as has been done in Scotland and New Zealand. As an employer, 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 neighbour who used to run inside when she saw me because she had once 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."
The "Stigma Shout" survey was carried out by mental health charity Rethink on behalf of Time to Change, England's most ambitious programme to end the discrimination faced by people with mental health problems, and improve the nation's wellbeing, funded with £18m from the Big Lottery Fund and Comic Relief and evaluated by the Institute of Psychiatry at King's College, London. Rethink is leading the anti-stigma campaign part of Time to Change and intends to reach 30 million people across England in an attempt to challenge attitudes and change behaviour.
The anti-stigma campaign will be launched in January 2009.
Notes to editors
- Case studies available
- To see the full survey results go to www.rethink.org/stigmashout
- Time to Change is England's most ambitious programme to end the discrimination faced by people with mental health problems, and improve the nation's wellbeing. Mental Health Media, Mind, and Rethink are leading this diverse programme of 35 projects, funded with £18m from the Big Lottery Fund and Comic Relief and evaluated by the Institute of Psychiatry at King's College, London. The programme is founded on an international evidence base, and has people with direct experience of mental health problems at its heart.
- People with mental health problems were asked: "From which groups of people do you personally experience most stigma and discrimination?" The results are presented in the league table below:
Discriminators league table
- Immediate family = 36%
- Employers = 35%
- Neighbours/local community = 31%
- Friends = 25%
- Work colleagues = 23%
- GPs = 23%
- Wider family = 22%
- Young people (teenagers) = 21%
- Psychiatrists = 19%
- Benefit agency staff = 18%
- Accident & Emergency staff = 17%
- Police = 17%
- Other health professionals = 14%
- Politicians and government officials = 13%
- Older people (past retirement age) = 12%
- Job centre plus staff = 12%
- Journalists = 12%
- Social workers = 12%
- Shopkeepers = 10%
- Staff working on public transport = 10%
- Mental health service users = 10%
- Housing staff = 9%
- Community psychiatric nurses = 9%
- Teachers = 8%
- Other sources = 8%
- Children 5-12 = 5%
Total: 26 groups