Monday, August 18, 2008

Many Canadians stigmatize mentally ill, poll finds
Updated Mon. Aug. 18 2008 1:18 PM ET News Staff
Many Canadians hold negative attitudes towards people with mental health issues, says a new poll released Monday by the Canadian Medical Association.

The poll, which was part of the CMA's 2008 National Report Card, showed

46 per cent of Canadians think people use the term "mental illness" as an excuse for bad behaviour.
The poll also showed only 50 per cent of Canadians would tell a friend that a family member had a mental illness -- compared to 72 per cent who would talk about a cancer diagnosis.

"This year's report card shines a harsh, and frankly unflattering, light on the attitudes we Canadians have concerning mental health," Dr. Brian Day, CMA's president, said in a press release.
"In some ways, mental illness is the final frontier of socially-acceptable discrimination.
"Can you imagine the public uproar if mental health was replaced with race, gender or religion?"
The poll also found that:
a solid majority of Canadians would not have a family doctor (61 per cent) or hire a lawyer (58 per cent) who has a mental illness;
55 per cent would not marry someone who has a mental illness;
27 per cent of respondents are fearful of being around people experiencing serious mental illness;
15 per cent of respondents had themselves received a previous diagnosis of clinical depression, the most common mental illness.
Meanwhile, less than half of Canadians think people struggling with drug and alcohol additions have a mental illness, says the report.
The results also showed that only one in five Canadians would socialize with someone who has a drug or alcohol addiction.
"These figures show clearly the insidious stigma still associated with mental health and mental illness," said Day. "These are the attitudes that have kept mental health on the outside for far too long."
Despite the stigmas, 72 per cent of respondents agreed that funding to treat mental illness should be equal to money spent on physical illnesses such as cancer.

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