According to 'Crying Shame', a new report published today (9 August) by the Priory Group, mental illness and perceptions of sufferers are still shrouded in stigma, fear and ignorance.
New research commissioned by the Priory Group(i) reveals that a shocking 72% of adults in the United Kingdom think that there is a stigma associated with having a mental illness and describe people with a mental illness as unpredictable (79%), dangerous (50%) and scary (49%).Less than half (45%) of the adult population think that people with long-term mental illnesses are able to lead independent, fulfilled lives.
Over half the sample (52%) agree that being diagnosed with a serious mental illness and being diagnosed with cancer were as bad as each other and 57% believe that all aspects of their lives would be negatively affected if they were diagnosed with a mental illness.
Consultant psychiatrist Dr. Natasha Bijlani at the Priory Hospital Roehampton says, 'Mental illness does not respect age, sex, marital status, class or region, which means that anyone, at any point in their lives, can become mentally ill. Susceptibility to mental illness is part of the human condition - no one is immune. We must stop being judgmental about people with mental illness. Mental illnesses are real illnesses, just like cancer, diabetes or arthritis.'The perceived devastation that mental illness causes led 76% of adults surveyed to say that they would feel upset if they were diagnosed with a serious mental illness, 75% would feel worried and 69% would feel fearful about the future.
Interestingly, 59% of the sample believe that alcohol or drug addiction is a serious mental illness like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or depression.
Positive perceptions Unusually, the Priory Group's research showed that 65% of the sample describe people with a mental illness as intelligent and 63% as kind, while 76% said that they did not think mental illness was the result of some type of personal weakness.
'Psychiatric patients are scared, and scarred, by their diagnoses,' says Dr. Bijlani. 'They are usually terrified at their initial consultation and feel that they are blamed for their illness in a way that other patients, say those who require orthopaedic surgery, are not. We hope that this new report will raise widespread awareness of the shocking stigma that still surrounds mental illness and encourage people to be more accepting of sufferers. Stigma is borne out of fear and ignorance. Stigma is created, not inherent, and it can and must be eradicated.' (i) Notes to Editors: - GfK NOP Omnibus carried out a survey of 998 adults aged 16 years and over using a quota sample. The sample was designed to be representative of all adults in the United Kingdom The sample was weighted to bring it into line with national population profiles.