Public attitudes towards mental health problems

For World Mental Health Day 2019, having worked on mental health campaigns with clients and partners including Newcastle United Foundation and The Road to Recovery Trust, we were keen to see if there was increased stigma around addiction compared with other mental health problems.

The survey was conducted in partnership with QuMind.co.uk

Demographic information

1283 people took part in the survey from across the UK. 486 stated that they had experienced a mental health problem, while 694 hadn’t and 103 were unsure.

Knowledge and awareness

When asked if they had a good understand of mental health problems:

When asked to identify mental health problems from a list:

1180 (92%) correctly identified depression as a mental health problem

853 (66%) correctly identified bulimia as a mental health problem

1103 (86%) currently identified anxiety as a mental health problem

798 (62%) correctly identified addiction as a mental health problem

1039 (81%) correctly identified schizophrenia as a mental health problem

302 (24%) thought that Pre-menstrual tension was a mental health problem and 267 (21%) thought that Hyperthyroidism was a mental health problem.

Stigma

When asked to what extent respondents’ opinions on mental health had changed as a result of conversations in the media and on social media:

203 (16%) said their opinions had changed dramatically

546 (43%) said their opinions have changed somewhat

534 (42%) said their opinions had not changed at all

When asked if there was still stigma around mental health:

406 (32%) said there was a lot of stigma

754 (59%) said there was some stigma

82 (6%) said there was no stigma

41 (3%) were unsure if there was stigma

When asked if they would be comfortable remaining friends with someone who had experienced / or was experiencing a mental health problem, a significantly higher proportion of respondents were comfortable remaining friends if the problem was depression or anxiety than if the problem was addiction or schizophrenia.

YesNoNot sure
Depression1102
86%
102
8%
78
6%
Anxiety1098
86%
108
8%
76
6%
Addiction778
61%
217
17%
287
22%
Schizophrenia652
51%
255
20%
375
29%
Bulimia or other eating problem927
72%
190
15%
165
13%

When asked if people experiencing mental health problems should be entitled to free support from the NHS or other public services, most agreed in all cases that people should have access to NHS support. However, addiction came out with the lowest supportive figure, with 28% of respondents saying no to free support or that they were unsure (compared to 15% when asked about depression).

YesNoNot sure
Depression1096
85%
83
6.5%
104
8%
Anxiety1040
81%
107
8%
136
11%
Addiction928
72%
150
12%
205
16%
Schizophrenia1073
84%
105
8%
105
8%
Bulimia or other eating problem1004
78%
133
10%
146
11%

When asked to identify the most likely reason that somebody would experience a mental health problem, a significantly higher proportion of respondents felt that addiction was down to poor lifestyle choices or lack of willpower as the primary reason.

Primary reason:Something has
made
them feel sad
Something traumatic has happenedIt’s an illness that can just happenIt’s down to poor lifestyle choicesLack of willpower
Depression283
22%
468
36%
483
38%
28
2%
21
2%
Eating problem368
29%
388
30%
401
31%
77
6%
47
4%
Addiction317
25%
339
26%
219
17%
256
20%
152
12%

When asked if people brought the problems on themselves, respondents were almost four times as likely to suggest addiction was the fault of the person than depression. However, only 5% would suggest that schizophrenia was the fault of the person, even though earlier, many said they would not remain friends with somebody who had experienced/was experiencing the illness.

YesNoDon’t know
Depression138
11%
1027
80%
118
9%
Anxiety151
12%
1006
78%
126
10%
Addiction485
38%
525
41%
273
21%
Anorexia/bulimia251
20%
814
63%
218
17%
Schizophrenia67
5%
1073
84%
143
11%
Hyperthyroidism73
6%
960
75%
250
19%
Pre-menstrual tension93
7%
1060
83%
130
10%

To find out more about NGI Solutions’ research and insight services, email hello@ngisolutions.com

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