The national survey into attitudes towards mental illness has been published by SHIFT, the initiative to tackle stigma and discrimination surrounding mental health issues in England.
- Download the full 2010 report from the Department of Health website
- Find out more about research commissioned by Shift.
The surveys serve as a benchmark, enabling measurement of whether attitudes are improving or worsening over time. The questionnaire included a number of statements about mental illness. Respondents were asked to indicate how much they agreed or disagreed with each statement.
Key findings include:
- People are broadly sympathetic towards people with a mental illness.
- However, some attitudes towards people with mental illness are worse compared to when the Department of Health first commissioned the poll in 1994 whilst a number have improved. Several attitudes that had worsened over the period up until 1997 have since improved.
- Attitudes to a number of statements have changed between 2009 and 2010.
- Opinions on some statements changed towards greater tolerance, for example:‘Locating mental health facilities in a residential area downgrades the neighbourhood’ – agreement with this statement decreased from 21% to 18%.
- Some opinions moved more in favour of integrating people with mental illness into the community, for example: ‘Residents have nothing to fear from people coming into their neighbourhood to obtain mental health services’ – agreement with this statement increased from 62% to 66%.
- On one item though, opinions moved less in favour of integration: ‘Mental hospitals are an outdated means of treating people with mental illness’ –agreement with this statement fell from 37% in 2009 to 33% in 2010.
Since March 1994, the Department of Health has placed a set of questions on TNS’s Face-to-Face Consumer Omnibus about public attitudes towards mental illness. From 1994 to 1997 the questions were asked on an annual basis and then every third year up until 2003. Since 2007 Shift has carried out the survey annually.