depressionMore than a quarter of people in Scotland have experienced a mental health problem, but nearly half would not want others to know, a survey has found.

The Scottish Social Attitudes Survey, commissioned by the Scottish Government to find out how attitudes are changing over time, surveyed 1,500 people and 26% said they had experienced a mental health problem at some point, with depression being the most common.

But it seems that stigma is still prevalent – and, worryingly, on the rise – as 47% of respondents said that they wouldn’t want anyone to know if they were experiencing mental health problems, a slight increase from 44% who said that in the previous survey in 2008.

More significantly, 37% had experienced negative social impact as a result of their mental health – a marked increase from 23% in 2008.

Other findings included:

85% of people with a mental health condition have told someone about it – slightly down on the 88% in the last survey. Usually this is a friend or family member (80%), while less than 20% had told someone at work

65% said they knew someone who had a mental health problem, a similar level to 2008

22% have avoided a social event because of how they feared they would be treated, and 13% have been discouraged from attending by someone else

22% said they were not willing to interact with a person with schizophrenia.

Scottish Government is tackling mental health discrimination and stigma by funding the campaign group See Me. See Me has held 22 events around Scotland since April, reaching more than 1,200 people, and has supported 24 projects around the country.

Stigma still surrounding mental health

Michael Matheson, Minister for Public Health, said: “This survey gives us some invaluable information about attitudes towards mental health, which helps us to better tackle the prejudices and misconceptions which still exist.

“It shows us that unfortunately there is still some stigma surrounding mental health. For that reason it’s all the more important that the Scottish Government continues our work to reduce the stigma suffered by people with mental health conditions. We fund See Me, which has just launched an anti-stigma campaign called ‘People like you will end mental health stigma and discrimination’.

“The best way to start to deal with a mental health problem is to talk about it. Also, if more people talk about their problems this will help to spread greater understanding and tolerance. This could be talking it through with a friend or family member, or going to your GP. There are treatments available that will help you to deal with your problems.”