The Scottish Mental Illness Stigma Study

Our first of its kind study has uncovered the severity of stigma and discrimination for people with experience of severe and enduring mental illnesses in Scotland.

People with experience of severe, enduring and complex mental illnesses across Scotland are withdrawing from opportunities which many of us take for granted – all because of stigma and discrimination.

Cover of the Scottish Mental Illness Stigma SurveyThe Scottish Mental Illness Stigma Study is a first of its kind piece of research for Scotland, exploring where and how people with more complex mental illnesses face stigma and discrimination and the impact this has.

The in-depth study has unearthed some concerning trends. We’ve seen that people are holding back from events and activities which contribute to basic happiness – withdrawing from friendships, not pursuing employment opportunities and even stopping themselves from getting medical assistance when feeling unwell.

  • 92% of participants say that they have experienced stigma in relationships with family and friends in the last year.
  • 53% said they respected themselves less because they will not recover or get better.
  • Of those who had faced stigma in relationships, 82% expected others would not want to be their friend due to their mental illness.
  • 77% said they had been treated unfairly at work.
  • Of those who had faced stigma in mental healthcare services, 58% had avoided calling an ambulance or attending A&E in relation for emergency mental healthcare.

People with mental illness are at a disadvantage – and for the most part, this stigma is avoidable.

What the study shows most starkly is that real change is needed across all areas of society.

The report

The study has produced a wealth of data, exploring the impact of stigma in a range of different life areas, including in relationships with family and friends, employment, mental healthcare services, healthcare services, social media, the media and education and training.

Read the report in full


Key findings

If you don’t have time to read the full report, we have a summarised version, pulling out some of the key findings.

Read the research overview

The human impact of stigma

One of the most important things to remember when reading the Scottish Mental Illness Stigma Study is that all of the data gathered comes from real people’s experiences.

Real lives are being affected by stigma every day. Here, Tommy, Zoe and Nicky reflect on how they’ve been affected by stigma over the years.

More personal stories

See Me volunteers share a more in-depth look of their experiences of stigma and discrimination, and what they would like to see change.

Take action

We know that drastic change is needed for the hundreds of people Scotland-wide with experience of severe, enduring and complex mental illness.

Whether you’re an employer, a healthcare worker, or you simply want to make the world a better place for people who need it, you can take action.

Be a part of the change with the See Us movement.

See Us Movement