2012 Research: Two years into the national stigma-reduction campaign, have attitudes changed?


In 2012, See Change commissioned Millward Brown Lansdowne to conduct a nationally representative survey of Irish attitudes towards mental health problems to build on baseline research conducted for the campaign in 2010. The survey was conducted over May and June in 2012 with a sample size of 1,038 people and was cofunded by the National Office for Suicide Prevention and the National Disability Authority.


Main findings: Attitudes in 2012 vs. 2010

1. An increased number of Irish people claim to have some experience a mental health problem, either themselves or through others.

2. There is increased awareness and understanding of mental health, mental health problems, stigma and support services.

3. There has been some improvement of attitudes around the outcomes for recovery from a mental health problem although attitudes to people with a diagnosis of schizophrenia still lag behind.

4. There has been some softening of attitudes towards the integration of people with mental health problems although attitudes to people with a diagnosis of schizophrenia still lag behind.

5. There is increased willingness to seek professional help for a mental health problem.

6. There is greater reluctance to be open and disclose information about a mental health problem in personal and professional relationships.

7. There is a more negative perception of peers’ reactions to a person’s mental health disclosure.

Read the full research report: Irish attitudes towards mental health problems, 2012 See Change



How did Irish people feel about mental health problems in 2010?

In April 2010, See Change commissioned Millward Brown Lansdowne to conduct a benchmark study on public attitudes towards mental ill-health in April. The study was co-funded by the HSE’s National Office for Suicide Prevention and the National Disability Authority.The objective of the research was to gain a baseline measure of public attitudes, with a specific emphasis on stigma, before the roll-out of See Change’s programme of activities for 2010-2012. The study will be repeated in 2012 to measure the impact of these activities.

Millward Brown Landsdowne conducted face to face interviews with a nationally representative sample of 977 people aged 18+.The research provided valuable insights into public attitudes towards mental ill health and helped identify key populations and settings for the See Change campaign, some of which are outlined below.

A low level of personal experience of mental health problems was reported by respondents. 6 in 1 people questioned reported no experience of mental health problems. There was also an underestimation of the prevalence of mental health problems. Just 11% correctly identified that one in four will experience mental illness at some point in their lives.

The research showed found that while 7 in 10 Irish people strongly agree virtually anyone can develop a mental health problem, 1 in 2 wouldn’t want others to know if they had a mental health problem.

The outlook for recovery from mental illness is seen as poor – only one in five strongly agree that ‘the majority of people with mental health problems recover’.

Less than half of those questioned would ‘know what to do’ if someone close to them was experiencing mental health problems.

The workplace was identified as a key setting for stigma reduction activities. 2 in 3 people questioned believed that people with mental health problems should have the same rights as the rest of the population but only 46% believed this was the case when it came to employment rights. 48% of respondents would deliberately conceal a diagnosis from co-workers.

18-24 year old males, farmers and people in the workplace emerged as particularly vulnerable groups amongst whom stigma is most keenly felt by  ; they are most likely to hide a diagnosis, and least likely to seek help for themselves or to know how to help others.

18-24 year old males

Farmers and the people living in rural communities

People in the Workplace

Click here to access a summary report of the research.

Hear My Voice

In Ireland there is little research about the nature, extent and impact of discrimination that people with mental health problems face, especially from the perspective of that group itself.

As part of their mental health and human rights campaign, Amnesty International Ireland commissioned Dublin City University’s School of Nursing to interview more than 300 people with mental health problems about their experience of unfair treatment in Ireland today. Hear them give voice to this under-reported area.

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

See Change