Eradicating mental health stigma is on the agendas of many. But how much stigma is there? Such a thing may seem immeasurable. What is measurable, however, is how people perceive mental health.
The following infographics show the present way that people regard mental health as a subject. This sheds light on existing stigma as well as which disorders are most acknowledged in the community.
In 2015, INKspire asked 147 people what words they associated with the idea of mental health. Here is a word cloud based upon their responses:
Responses range from depression to isolation, and autism to stigma. The most highly associated word was “depression”, followed by “anxiety” and “sad”. These may imply that these are the most relevant topics in current mental health discussions. Many of the words are negative, relating mental health to the words “unstable”, “scary”, and “crazy”. This may point to a perceived danger surrounding mental health patients and disorders. Even so, many words associate the word to a desire to improve the way mental health in society. This may indicate progress. These words are “stigma”, “oppressed”, “misunderstood”, and “support”.
These graphs show the percentage of participants who agree with the above statements.
This reveals that people may feel it is socially inappropriate to talk about their own (hypothetical or not) mental health disorder(s). This may be attributed to a fear of mental health disorders being inherently more dangerous than physical ailments. More widespread discussion of said topic may possibly lead to a more accepting attitude of mental health, directed both at the self and at others.
These statistics from a survey conducted by the Canadian Medical Association in 2008 shed light on how people felt about mental health in comparison to other ailments, such as cancer and diabetes.
You can also contrast these statistics to the ones INKspire collected in 2015. Although direct correlations are difficult to make, perhaps it is worth noticing how the percentage of people willing to talk about their mental health disorder rose in the past seven years. In 2008, 58% of Canadians were confident about socializing with someone with a mental health disorder. Compare this to the results in 2015, where 88% of survey participants were willing to talk to someone with a mental health disorder. It appears as though progress has been made.
Although stigma still remains, a lot of these findings show progress and change. People are beginning to stray from the idea of mental health patients being crazy and unstable and are more likely to see them as their neighbour. Change is happening quickly and it may not take long before mental health stigma wanes into a thing of the past.