72% of people say they would not want to live with someone with a severe and enduring mental illness

72% of people say they would not want to live with someone with a severe and enduring mental illness

Almost three quarters (72%) of people say they would not want to live with someone with a severe and enduring mental illness, despite the majority (75%) saying they don’t know what a severe and enduring mental illness is. That’s according to new research from See Change, Ireland’s programme dedicated to ending mental health stigma.

A severe and enduring mental illness is a term used by many in the mental health field to describe a person whose mental health problem is long-lasting and requires ongoing supports and/or treatments.

Worryingly, the research, which was conducted by Kantar on behalf of See Change, also reveals that half (50%) of people would not want to work with someone with a severe and enduring mental illness.

The survey results show that just 16% of people associated the term ‘severe and enduring mental illness’ with a mental health disorder or condition. See Change suggest that, with so many people struggling to identify with the term ‘severe and enduring mental illness,’ more work needs to be done to find new ways of making the language around mental health more accessible. Barbara Brennan, See Change Programme Leader says, “Making our language more accessible will better enable us to have more honest conversations about mental health and equip those with mental health difficulties to access the supports and services available.”

Describing her experience of living with a mental illness, See Change Ambassador Cathy Shah said ”Having a severe and enduring mental illness is not a choice. Just as someone suffering from an enduring physical illness did not choose their illness, I did not choose to have my condition. I deserve the same care, compassion, respect and understanding across all levels of society as somebody who is suffering from a complex physical illness. I am not responsible for my condition, but with the right help and support I can be empowered to take responsibility for my recovery.”

Commenting on the research, Barbara Brennan, See Change Programmes Leader said “These findings tell us that there is still a high degree of fear from the general public around mental illnesses. While we have got better at understanding the term ‘mental health,’ many still lack enough education about the more severe and complex mental illnesses. For example, many people do not understand that lots of people living with a mental illness are still perfectly capable of working, parenting and having a regular social life. We need to work together to challenge this shame and stigma to create a culture where people can openly have conversations about mental illnesses, without fear of being ridiculed or rejected.”

When it comes to asking for help, encouragingly the research found that three in four people say they would reach out to a professional if they were to struggle with their own mental health, with this sentiment higher among females and older age groups.

Nicola Byrne, CEO at Shine, said “I am very pleased to see that so many people would reach out if they are struggling with their mental health. We know that taking the first step can be hard. But when people get the right support, they can learn to effectively manage and live with their mental health difficulty. The work that See Change is doing to end mental health stigma and discrimination is key to normalising conversations about mental illnesses and empowering people to ask for help when they need it.”

She added “To help people understand more about mental illnesses and the impact that stigma can have on people with mental illnesses, See Change has created a Let’s Talk About Mental Illness guide based on its research findings, which can be downloaded from its website.”

See Change works with people across all communities to help break the stigma and shame that people living with a mental illness can experience through initiatives like the See Change Workplace Programme and its 6-step framework.

See Change will be running its tenth annual national Green Ribbon campaign across the month of September to spread awareness about all mental health difficulties and help end mental health stigma and discrimination.

See Change is a programme of Shine, a charity that supports people with lived experience of -mental health difficulties and their families and supporters.

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