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Attitudes to mental health

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For World Mental Health Day in October 2019 the Policy Institute and Ipsos MORI carried out a survey on attitudes towards mental health around the world.

The research finds that Britain is more tolerant than many countries when it comes to mental health. Just over three-quarters (76 per cent) of the British public think mental illness is an illness like any other – the highest of all countries polled. 80 per cent of Britons also believe that the health system doesn't prioritise mental health to the same extent as physical health, despite four in five (82 per cent) saying the two are equally important

The findings also show:

  • A majority in all countries surveyed agree that mental and physical health are equally important.
  • Three-quarters of Britons (77 per cent) say we need to adopt a far more tolerant attitude to people with mental illness, while 68 per cent say seeing a mental health professional is a sign of strength.
  • Britain is second only to Sweden for acceptance of public officials who have experienced mental health issues, with just 12 per cent saying anyone with a history of mental illness should be excluded from public office. By contrast, the least tolerant country by this measure is Russia on 76 per cent.
  • Globally, a quarter of 16-34-year-olds think about their mental health very often – the most of any age group. By contrast, just one in eight (12 per cent) of over-65s fall into this category. 
  • People in South Korea (31 per cent) and Japan (47 per cent) are least likely to agree that we need to adopt a more tolerant attitude towards people with mental illness. By contrast, those in Latin American countries – Mexico (85 per cent), Peru (85 per cent), Chile (85 per cent), Colombia (84 per cent) and Argentina (84 per cent) – are most likely to.