Americans are becoming more positive about mental health, although some stigma remains, according to the results of a new poll released by the American Psychological Association (APA).
The Harris Poll conducted a survey of 1,006 nationally representative U.S. adults from November 20 to 29, 2018, on behalf of the APA. Participants completed an online survey about their attitudes toward mental health disorders and treatment.
The researchers found that 87 percent of American adults agreed that having a mental health disorder is nothing to be ashamed of, and 86 percent said they believe that people with mental health disorders can get better. Young adults (aged 18 to 34 years) reported the most shame around mental health disorders, with 78 percent saying a mental health disorder was not something to be ashamed of (versus 92 percent of those ≥65 years and 89 percent of those aged 35 to 64 years). One-third of participants agreed with the statement, “People with mental health disorders scare me,” and 39 percent said they would view someone differently if they knew that person had a mental health disorder. While the majority of respondents (91 percent) agreed that people who are suicidal can be treated and go on to live successful lives, 30 percent said that they would keep quiet about the cause of death if their own loved one died by suicide.
“The results of this survey are encouraging, and a signal that APA’s and others’ work over the years to promote mental health care is paying off,” Arthur C. Evans Jr., Ph.D., the chief executive officer of the APA, said in a statement. “They indicate a willingness to be more open about mental illness, as well as a strong belief among older respondents that having a mental disorder is nothing to be ashamed of.”