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Survey shows drop in stigma surrounding mental health

October 10th 2014 / Emma Jones

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Public attitudes towards issues of mental illness have seen the biggest improvement in a decade

Taking place today, the World Mental Health Day for 2014 sees focus shift to shine a light on Schizophrenia - encouraging members of the public to raise awareness and show their support by shunning stigmatisation to face the true facts behind mental illness.

Focusing on a specific theme each year, this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week was all about anxiety - and it couldn’t have come at a better time. With people all over the world working to raise awareness for the past seven days, new data has just been released which shows a surge in the percentage of positive attitudes from the public towards people living with the problem.

MORE GLOSS: Anxiety SOS: Information and treatments

First conducted in 1993 by TNS, and with supporting research by King’s College London from 2003, the National Attitudes to Mental Illness survey has revealed that since 2011 an estimated two million people have shown an improvement in their attitudes towards mental illness, with the biggest leap forward in a decade - 2.8 per cent - being seen between 2012 and 2013.

The survey also shows that in the past year there has been a 6 per cent rise in willingness to ‘continue a relationship with a friend with a mental health problem’ (82 to 88 per cent), a 7 per cent rise in willingness to ‘work with someone with a mental health problem’ (69 to 76 percent), a 5 per cent rise in willingness to ‘live nearby to someone with a mental health problem’ (72 to 77 per cent) and a 5 per cent rise in willingness to ‘live with someone with a mental health problem (57 to 62 per cent).

MORE GLOSS: Are you always worrying? Here's how to stop

Despite ongoing issues regarding the discussion of mental health in the work place, the overall picture is a positive one - showing a shift in public attitudes towards a kinder and more tolerant take on mental illness. In fact, an encouraging 79 per cent of people now readily acknowledge that people with a mental illness have been subject to ridicule for far too long.

Hoping to build on these changes, organisations such as the Mental Health Foundation are working harder than ever to encourage members of the public to get involved in the raising of support and awareness of such issues, in order to make the stigmatisation of mental illness a thing of the past.

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