Study reveals changing attitudes to mental illness

The public is becoming more positive in its perceptions of some mental health issues, but there is still a lot of progress to be made, a study by the NHS Information Centre has concluded.

Its Attitudes to mental illness 2011 survey suggested that more people now viewed mental health as an illness like any other.

But one respondent in six also still believed that the main cause of mental illness was lack of self-discipline and will power, about the same level as first reported back in 1994.

The poll of 1,741 adults also found that 43% were uncomfortable talking to their employer about their mental health, down from half in the 2010 survey, the first time the question had been asked.

Dr Andrew McCulloch, chief executive of the Mental Health Foundation, said it was good news that attitudes to mental illness were starting to improve gradually in some areas.

“However, it is disquieting that the stigma attached to people who experience mental illness still prevails, with one in six people believing that one of the main causes of mental illness is a lack of self-discipline and will power,” he added.

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