Exploring the National Stigma Report Card results

Posted 16th October 2020 in General

SANE Australia has this week launched the findings of the National Stigma Report Card - a world-leading project designed to understand how stigma and discrimination affect people living with complex mental health issues.

The project was conducted under SANE Australia’s Anne Deveson Research Centre, in partnership with the Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences at the University of Melbourne and with the support of the Paul Ramsay Foundation. It invited people living with complex mental health issues to participate in the Our Turn to Speak survey, a first of its kind national survey exploring how stigma and discrimination affect people with complex mental health issues, which helped to informed the National Stigma Report Card.

Results from the National Stigma Report Card show that people living with complex mental health issues experience stigma and discrimination across many aspects of their lives. 

The top data points from the research included:

  1. 95.6% of participants said they had experienced some level of stigma or discrimination in their relationships in the previous year, with 69.1% reporting that this had significantly impacted their lives. Issues included relationships with friends, family, intimate partners or in their role as parents or caregivers.  
  2. 78.1% of participants said they had experienced some level of stigma or discrimination in relation to employment in the previous year. 43.0% reported employment as one of three areas of life in which they had been most affected by stigma and discrimination. Issues included a range of experiences, from applications and interviews to treatment on the job.
  3. 83.9% of participants said they had experienced stigma or discrimination when accessing physical healthcare services in the previous year, with 26.3% reporting that this had significantly impacted their lives. For many, these negative experiences stopped them seeking help for physical health problems.
  4. 84.6% of participants said they had experienced stigma or discrimination in their engagement with social media in the previous year, with 25.3% reporting that this had significantly impacted their lives. Many people said they had seen, read or heard social media content that portrayed people living with mental health issues as dangerous or unpredictable, being to blame for their own issues, or being unable to recover.
  5. 71.8% of participants said they had experienced stigma or discrimination when accessing mental healthcare in the previous year. Almost 60% of those who answered questions about this life domain said their experience of stigma or discrimination when accessing mental healthcare services had been ‘frequent’ or ‘very frequent’. Many said they had avoided important things, like getting help for their mental health issues when they needed it.
  6. Close to 25% of participants said they had been most affected by stigma about mental health issues when watching, reading or listening to mass media, like news and entertainment media. On average, 90% of participants who answered questions about these experiences said they had seen, read or heard mass media content that portrayed people living with mental health issues as dangerous, unsafe or unpredictable, being to blame for their issues, or being incapable of recovery or getting better.
  7. 12% of all participants said they had been most affected by stigma about mental health issues when accessing welfare and social services. On average, 79% of participants who answered questions about this life domain said they expected to experience future stigma or discrimination in this area of their lives, like being treated unfairly by welfare or social services staff members.
  8. 10.5% of participants said they had been most affected by stigma about mental health issues when accessing education and training during the past year. On average, 70% of participants said they had avoided important things, like applying for education or training courses, including scholarship opportunities, seeking support or assistance from teachers, lecturers, tutors or trainers, or asking for flexible study arrangements.

The research highlighted people living with complex mental health issues are being held back from full participation in their communities because they cannot be open about what they are going through. The recommendations for action have been designed to ensure all Australians can live long and fulfilling lives, free from stigma and discrimination.

Visit the National Stigma Report Card website, to find out more about the research results and hear real stories from people living with complex mental health issues, who are impacted by stigma and discrimination.