Awareness of mental health in the UK

We asked our panel if they thought that there is enough awareness, help and support for mental health issues in the UK and in what ways did they think that more awareness could be raised.

The panel had mixed views on the levels of awareness surrounding mental health currently in the UK. The majority felt that more needed to be done, particularly in helping people to spot the signs of mental illness. However a few of the panel felt that there was too much awareness, causing people to think they had depression if they experienced one bad day. “Every other person I meet in the street has had depression.” (Katie, 25, Wallsend)

The majority of the panel felt that people in the UK are quite ignorant towards mental health. It was suggested that many do not understand mental health problems and therefore are scared of it and are reluctant to speak about it. The panel also felt that it was also seen as an embarrassing illness that had a big stigma attached to it. Things suggested to help irradiate this stigma included TV advertising campaigns; help hotlines, and just more awareness which would result in it becoming less of a taboo and a more common subject to speak about openly. “I think there is still a big stigma attached to people suffering and it’s almost an embarrassing thing, which it shouldn’t be.” (Craig, 42, Kingston upon Thames)

“I don’t think there is enough awareness about mental health on the television or the Internet, there should be more introduced on social media.” (Jamie, 25, Cambridge)

The panel did agree that awareness has improved over the last ten years. Many thought that the correct services were in place, for example a panel member mentioned that the NHS had put a lot of time and money into mental health awareness campaigns. However the biggest struggle is to change people’s attitudes. “It’s shocking that some of the public are quite happy to make jokes about mentally ill people.” (Scarlet, 24, Stockport)

The panel felt that the main area where awareness needed to be improved was spotting the signs of depression both in yourself and others. The panel felt that people are afraid to talk about it and don’t really understand what it is. Many felt that they couldn’t speak to someone with a mental health issue, as they were afraid of saying the wrong thing. “It’s something we don’t do very well over here, we treat mental health issues as if they are a mystery.” (Alan, 51, Banstead) It was suggested that we need a more positive approach to understanding mental illness and that we needed to look at how other countries dealt with it, especially America.

The panel did feel that we were slowly becoming more aware and better at understanding mental health issues. People’s attitudes are slowly changing and the panel suggested that time is what is needed in order for people to become more informed and accepting.