Stigmatization of people with mental illnesses: a follow-up study within the Changing Minds campaign of the Royal College of Psychiatrists

World Psychiatry. 2005 Jun;4(2):106-13.


A population survey before the start of the Changing Minds campaign showed that negative opinions about people with mental illnesses were widely held, and that opinions about different disorders differed in important ways. We repeated the survey 5 years later, when the campaign had ended. Interviews were again conducted with a representative population sample (1725 interviews; response rate 65%), enquiring about demographic variables, about eight opinions concerning seven common mental disorders, and whether the respondents knew anyone with one of these mental disorders. The pattern of response in this second survey resembled that in the first. However, there were significant changes. Though often small, apart from reported opinions concerning treatment and outcome, they were all reductions in the percentages of stigmatizing opinions. Seventy seven percent of respondents reported knowing someone with one of the seven disorders. Those who did so in respect of severe depression or panic and phobias were less likely to have stigmatizing opinions about people with the corresponding disorder, but the same did not apply to the other disorders. The greatest proportion of negative opinions was in the 16-19 year age group, and respondents with higher education were less likely than the rest to express such views. We conclude that stigmatizing opinions are frequent in the community but the various disorders are not stigmatized in the same way. Campaigns to reduce stigma should take account of these differences, and of the need to address young people.