60% believe mental illness is caused by lack of self-discipline, willpower: Survey

Bengaluru: A survey released recently has come out with shocking revelations about high prevalence of stigma attached to mental illness, with 47% of people using the word "retard" to describe people with mental illness. Also, 60% of respondents believe that people with mental illness "should have their own groups to avoid contaminating healthy people" and 68% believe that they "should not be given any responsibility." 

Also, many were seen with minimal knowledge about mental illness as close to 60% believe that mental illness is caused by a "lack of self-discipline and willpower".

"How India Perceives Mental Health,' a report published by The Live Love Laugh Foundation (TLLLF) to gauge the public perception of mental health across eight Indian cities, revealed that 87% of respondents associate mental illness with severe disorders (like schizophrenia and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) and their symptoms. 

Illustrating the poor understanding of the broad spectrum of mental illness, respondents were unlikely to associate mental illness with symptoms of more common mental disorders such as anxiety, when describing people with mental illness.

Only 27% people indicated support for people perceived as having a mental illness. 

They would not discriminate against people with mental illness and predominantly believe that anyone can suffer from mental illness. This segment was seen predominantly in cities such as Kanpur, Patna and Delhi. 

A whopping 47% were judgmental against people perceived to be suffering from a mental illness. 

This segment includes people who are more aware of mental illnesses and associated symptoms, but also display some stigma against people with mental illness. Sadly, respondents from Bengaluru displayed a fear towards people with mental illness. 

This segment is "frightened of living in the same neighbourhood as and interacting with someone suffering from mental illness". 

Anna Chandy, chairperson, The Board of Trustees, TLLLF, said, "Traditionally and historically, India is a collectivistic society, now slowly moving towards a more individualistic one. This transition is evident in the data presented in the report. In larger cities, we see a more dramatic shift towards individualism, possibly due to an increase in the amount of access to information and migrant need for survival. However, smaller cities like Kanpur and Patna seem to retain some of their collectivistic roots, and are moving towards an individualistic society at a slower pace."

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