Britain tops list of countries most tolerant of mental health problems

Britain has topped a list of countries believed to be most tolerant towards people with mental health problems, according to global research.

A survey of more than 20,0000 people found that three-quarters (76%) of the British public think mental illness is an illness like any other – the highest of the 29 countries polled.

A similar proportion (77%) of the 1,000 people surveyed in Britain feel we need to become more tolerant still, according to new research by Ipsos MORI and the Policy Institute at King’s College London.

The survey also found that just a fifth of Britons believe the NHS treats mental health with the same importance as physical health, despite the majority believing the two to be equal.

Anna Quigley, research director at Ipsos MORI, said: “We know from our existing data that mental health is increasingly seen as one of the top public health concerns, and is now seen as a priority for healthcare funding.

“While Brits come out relatively well in terms of attitudes to mental health compared with other countries, the findings reinforce the fact that they want to see more being done to meet the challenges of an issue now very much in the public consciousness.”

Britain was also one of the most accepting countries towards public officials with a history of mental health issues, with 12% saying they should be barred from public office.

Britain was second behind Sweden, while the least tolerant country in this respect was Russia, the survey found, with 76% of respondents agreeing with this.

The survey also found that eight in ten respondents in Britain disagree that increased spending on mental health services is a waste of money, while 68% said seeing a mental health professional is a sign of strength.

Professor Bobby Duffy (pictured), director of the Policy Institute at King’s College London, said: “The British public overwhelmingly say that good mental health is just as important as good physical health – but they feel the NHS isn’t treating it that way.

“Nearly two-thirds think the health service prioritises physical health over mental.

“At a time when budgets for mental health services remain severely constrained, the NHS faces a real challenge in meeting rising demand for treatment and dealing with a shift in expectations as mental health becomes more of a mainstream concern.”

Copyright (c) PA Media Ltd. 2019, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) King’s College London.