New research aims to look at the level and extent of mental illness across Aberdeenshire

People living with mental illness in Aberdeenshire are being encouraged by two leading mental health organisations to take part in new research that will draw attention to the extent and impact of mental illness stigma in Scotland.

By John A. MacInnes
Monday, 31st January 2022, 11:27 am
Updated Monday, 31st January 2022, 12:02 pm
The new survey hopes to inform on the level of mental health illness across the Shire
The new survey hopes to inform on the level of mental health illness across the Shire

The Scottish Mental Illness Stigma Survey is being undertaken by See Me, Scotland’s national programme to end mental health stigma and discrimination, and the Mental Health Foundation in Scotland, in partnership with Glasgow Caledonian University. The views and experiences people share will be used to make recommendations for the positive changes which can help create a Scotland that is free of mental illness prejudice and discrimination.

Responses to the survey will be anonymous as the organisations seek to find out more about the real-life experiences of people, aged 18 and over, who are living with complex, and/or enduring mental illnesses. While it is known that people living with these conditions experience discrimination, the research will explore how and where people face stigma, self-stigma, the impact this has, and most importantly, what needs to be done to make people’s lives better and prevent mental health conditions worsening or becoming unmanageable.

See Me volunteer, Tommy Kelly, first struggled with an eating disorder in 1997 following the death of his mother. Now, he uses his experiences to help others.

Tommy said: “I was really scared about speaking about my mental health at first because of what others would think. Someone once called me a drug addict in the street because I was so skinny. People don’t think it’s an illness, they think it is a choice.

“A lot of people would say to me that men don’t suffer from eating disorders, it was a female illness. So, I was scared to speak about it as I didn’t think I would be accepted by society. In actuality, 25 per cent of people presenting with an eating disorder are male. This figure is likely higher, as many men don’t come forward for help, due to stigma.

“Self-stigma has affected me so much in my journey. People always look at me as being this anorexic person, when that's just part of my past; that doesn't define who I actually am.”

More info at seemescotland.org/StigmaSurvey.