About a month ago I ran a survey to try and shed some light on the silence surrounding mental health, to see what kinds of reserves people had when talking about mental health.
The survey consisted of 8 ‘situational questions’ and a final ‘open ended question’. Here are the results and my findings.
*There was an option to add a comment with each answer. When the comment is not an elaboration on a specific answer it will be addressed*
This question was designed to gain an overview of how important mental health issues are in different people’s lives.
- 84% of people surveyed would be interested in the stall and either consider going up to it or actually check it out.
I understand the various viewpoints that people have have towards stalls; where someone is always trying to get you to sign up to something or part with money that you need, so this is an overwhelmingly positive amount of people to show an interest in a mental health stall.
This question was designed to gain an insight into the depth of the general public’s understanding of how to talk about mental health in an informed and non-stigmatising way.
- Just over half of the participants believed that the misuse of the term ‘bipolar’ should be addressed.
- Whilst 24% understood on some level that it was wrong but it did not affect them.
- A small 16% did not find anything wrong with this.
2 comments mentioned that people may have a tendency to take things too ‘seriously’ or ‘literally’.
Although it may seem pedantic to some people, having a focus on not abusing mental health terms is an extremely important issue that needs to be addressed. However, it seems everyone has different viewpoints on where to draw the line and what is deemed ‘unacceptable’, especially in this era of political correctness.
This question sought to determine how likely people are to stand up for mental health issues in a place where they might not have the majority opinion.
- An huge 61% would address the issue outright with their coworkers.
- Whilst 34% would feel compelled to say something but refrain for their own reasons.
A few responses commented that perhaps it was a lack of understanding that prompted the other coworker’s anger.
It seems the majority of participants would be empathetic to their coworker, even if they did not know how to vocalise their discomfort with other’s opinions.
This question intended to determine how people would react in a situation where someone could potentially have a panic attack; a symptom of anxiety that many people may not have any experience in helping before.
- A solid 68% of participants would be completely accommodating to the stranger; and all six comments reiterated in specifics how they would try to help the person in question.
- 25% of those who took part in the survey would be actively on the lookout for further signs of distress.
There is a still a sliver of people who do not understand or do not feel it is their place to provide support, but the positive response to this question shows that this is an area where people feel they can contribute to someone’s wellbeing personally.
This question sought to determine how people view depression in terms of mental illness, and if they understand that it is more than ‘feeling a bit sad’.
- 86% of participants understood the effects of depression and would offer their help.
- 10% would want to help, but were unsure how. This could be where raising awareness to start a conversation may be useful.
- 0% of those surveyed thought that depression was equal to general sadness.
Many people will suffer from depression at some point in their lives, and it seems to be the most well understood mental health issue.
This question was designed to see how people viewed suicide in the community – and if their reaction was swayed by seeing the person supposedly had a ‘good life’.
- 28% of people felt that they could not pass judgement on someone they didn’t know personally.
- Whilst 65% felt that they wished they could’ve helped in some way.
- 1 comment said “I’d be confused and a little hurt that they felt they couldn’t talk to me but guilty that I didn’t ask them”
- 2 comments mentioned that they would be angry at the person for leaving their family behind.
Suicide is a very tender and sometimes volatile issue in mental health, mostly because of it’s taboo nature in society and a general mystification or lack of understanding. There are many charities and organisations hoping to shed some light on suicide, especially in men and young people, who are often overlooked or under-supported.
This question sought to determine how people view self-harm, particularly in strangers.
- Despite being highly stigmatised as an ‘attention-seeking’ behaviour, especially in young people, 0% of participants viewed the stranger as attention-seeking.
- 5% of people did not understand why the person would do that to themselves, a potential area for developing understanding.
- 16% understood on some level that the person must be going through a tough time.
- A majority 75% of people were understanding and even respectful, whilst still being aware that there are other ways to cope.
The 11 comments detailed how people would attempt to talk to the stranger about their self-harm.
3/11 comments explained that the participants had self-harmed themselves and would offer to talk about it if the stranger wished.
2/11 comments said they would not bring it up out of respect for the stranger.
This question was designed to determine how likely people are to engage in mental health services in the workplace when their work is already impacted as a result of their coworker.
- 0% of participants felt badly towards to coworker, nor felt that it was inconvenient timing.
- 13% were interested in learning more from the workshop, whilst 85% felt that the workshop was much needed and would benefit everyone.
It is encouraging to see how many people felt that the workshop would be beneficial, and it seems that there may be a much bigger need for mental health workshops at a place of employment than employers may think.
I received 69 responses to this question, which I cannot display here (this post is long enough already), but I will summarise my findings here.
- 49% of participants disclosed that they were diagnosed, had been in the past or knew someone personally with a mental health condition – just under half of all the people who answered this question.
- 29% of people who answered this question felt they had a good understanding of mental health conditions; either from personal experience, careers in that field, or their own research.
- 27% of participants felt that the mental health system needed more work in order to provide better support or reduce the stigma that surrounds mental health.
- 14% stated that they would like to understand more about mental health conditions.
- 8% of participants said that they did not know how to talk about mental health issues, either for themselves, or with someone else.
- 7% of people who answered said they did not really understand anything about mental health conditions.
1% felt that some mental illnesses were the ‘in’ thing to have and people used them for attention.
As seen in these results, many people have experienced mental health issues themselves and are therefore more understanding and receptive to others. However, there is still a need for better support systems and more understanding in the field of mental health.
In conclusion, I have correlated the responses that disclosed they were diagnosed (or knew someone) with a mental health condition and found that the majority of their answers to other questions supports the theory that these people are more likely to be more understanding in situations where mental health issues are presented to them in one form or another.
It still remains that there is a lot of work to be done in informing and building a better understanding of mental health in the public. We also need to think about building channels for people to talk about mental health, even if they aren’t directly affected by a condition. People should feel able to talk about mental health as openly as they do a cold or flu.