A new British study — with results that may mimic American trends to a significant degree, if past, similar research if any indication — found mental illness to be a stronger taboo than any of the other qualities studied, including homosexuality, bankruptcy, and alcoholism (in itself a mental illness, but considered as a separate condition by this survey and in much of the popular culture).
The survey of 2,000 people was commissioned by the charity coalition “Time to Change” in collaboration with the British Institute of Psychiatry. Just under one third of respondents reported they would find it difficult to admit publicly to being mentally ill. About one fifth said they would have trouble admitting to being gay, a difference of about 190 people, or 10 percent.
Strikingly, the study found that just under 33% of participants don’t believe a person with a mental health problem can “do a responsible job, ” and less than four of ten employers would be willing to hire a mentally ill individual. One fifth of female respondents also said they would end a romantic relationship with a man diagnosed with schizophrenia.
The Time to Change campaign, began last year, funded by lottery proceeds and a Comic Relief tour. Its goal is to reduce discrimination based on mental health by at least 5% by the year 2012.
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