Public attitudes towards mental health sufferers have improved

Public attitudes towards people with mental health problems are far more positive than previously thought, with the public being broadly sympathetic, yet worried that society is not tolerant enough.

A study by the Department of Health found nine in 10 respondents felt people with mental health problems deserved our sympathy, while four in five felt society needed to be more tolerant.

Nine in 10 also believed society had a responsibility to provide the best possible care, while nearly four in five disagreed with the idea that people with mental health problems were a burden on society.

The vast majority remained supportive of the integration of those with mental illness into the community, arguing that this was the best therapy, and that mental health services should be largely community-based.

The finding comes as the government’s new ‘mental health minister’ Ivan Lewis gave the go-ahead for 11 new projects to give people with anxiety and depression better access to psychological therapies.

The roll-out follows two pilot schemes that ran in Doncaster and Newham. New schemes will include one in Derby focusing on people from black and other ethnic minority communities, and one in Salford to help women with pre- and post-natal mental health problems.

The 11 sites are located within the following primary care trusts: Brighton & Hove City, Buckinghamshire, Derby City, Dorset, Ealing, East Riding & Yorkshire, Hertfordshire, North Tees and Hartlepool, Salford, Stoke-on-Trent and Bury. They will share funding of £2.2m between them.

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