Researchers are calling on people who have or have had a complex mental illness to take part in a survey that could help improve support and services in Scotland.
Participants will be asked to share their views and experiences of stigma and discrimination surrounding mental health.
The survey, which has been described as the first of its kind, is being led by Mental Health Foundation Scotland, in partnership with Glasgow Caledonian University and See Me, Scotland’s national programme to end mental health stigma and discrimination.
Researchers will analyse the data collected and said they hope to use it to shape policy, support and services in Scotland to improve the lives of those with mental illnesses.
Wendy Halliday, director of See Me, said: “The Scottish Mental Illness Stigma Survey will allow us, for the first time ever, to build a more complete picture of the stigma and discrimination that those with the most serious, complex mental health conditions in Scotland face.
“This is a really exciting piece of work, with real potential to make a difference for thousands of people.”
Liam Rankin, from East Kilbride, has spoken about the stigma he has faced since being diagnosed with schizophrenia at the age of 16.
Mr Rankin, 53, said: “I’ve had some people react really negatively to me – I used to coach a kids’ football team and when one of the dads found out about my mental health, he challenged me. He said I wasn’t safe to be working with kids.
“I’ve seen stigma in the workplace, in the police service, in healthcare.
“Recently, I had to go to accident and emergency after hurting myself and a doctor told me that I was wasting their resources because I’d done this to myself.”
He said sharing people’s experiences of stigma surrounding mental can help prompt change, adding; “More serious mental health problems are still hugely stigmatised in society, in the media, in books and in films, but this survey will show what life is really like.”
Lee Knifton, director of the Mental Health Foundation in Scotland and Northern Ireland, said: “The findings of the Scottish Mental Illness Stigma Survey will help us build an essential evidence base that will shape our priorities, and that of the Scottish Government more broadly, in the years to come.
“By ensuring that we listen and respond to the priorities of people in Scotland who live with mental health conditions, we can create a Scotland that is free of mental health stigma and discrimination.”
Simon Hunter, Glasgow Caledonian University professor of applied psychology, said: “I’m immensely proud to be involved in this project and expect it to inform our national strategies tackling this type of stigma in the coming years.
“Applying psychology to real-life issues is core to our mission in psychology at Glasgow Caledonian University and this project will contribute toward the university’s aim of working for the common good in society.”
The survey is open to anyone aged 18 or over who has received a formal diagnosis or believes they may be experiencing one or more complex mental illnesses.
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