brainscanThe majority of people in Britain agree that celebrities help to raise awareness of bipolar disorder, but not understanding as several myths about the condition are still rife, a survey has found.

A survey of 2,000 adults, commissioned by charity Rethink Mental Illness, found that myths about bipolar are still common, with 1 in 5 people believing people with the condition have a ‘split personality’, and 13% saying they think it's ‘another name for mood swings'. 

But more than half (53%) of respondents said celebrities such as Stephen Fry and Catherine Zeta Jones speaking openly about having bipolar has increased public understanding of the condition and 51% said it has helped to break down stigma. 

However, stigma still persists. While 79% said they would tell their family if they had bipolar, only 57% would tell close friends about it, while 13% said they wouldn’t tell anyone if they had the condition.

When asked where people had first learnt about bipolar most (26%) said it was from a TV programme such as a soap opera or a documentary. Only 8% first learnt about bipolar from a celebrity and 12% say they still don’t know what bipolar is.  

Nigel Campbell, Rethink Mental Illness’ associate director of communications said: "It's great to see celebrities talking about their own experiences of bipolar disorder, as it starts conversations and brings mental health into the public arena. However, it is also clear that not enough people truly understand what bipolar is, so there's still a lot of work to do in terms of breaking down the myths and stereotypes that surround it. 

"We were also worried to see how many people would keep it a secret from those around them if they were diagnosed. This really highlights why It's so important that we break down the stigma around mental illnesses like bipolar, so that people feel that they can reach out to friends and family for support, in the same way they would if they had a physical illness. No one should have to face mental illness alone."