Global: Do people think stigmas around mental health are declining?
October 7th, 2022, Bhavika Bansal

Global: Do people think stigmas around mental health are declining?

A 2019 estimate by the World Health Organisation showed that one in eight people globally were living with some mental disorder - a number that rose with the onset of COVID-19. In the first year of the pandemic, the number of people living with anxiety or depressive disorders rose by 26% and 28%, respectively. At the same time, however, the treatment gap has widened, and discrimination remains a barrier to inclusion and access to care.

Envisioning a world of equal opportunity and access where mental health is promoted and protected, the WHO and the World Federation for Mental Health (WFMH) mark World Mental Health Day, 2022 to "make mental health and well-being for all a global priority". In light of this global campaign, we look at whether people think it is important to talk about mental health and ask whether stigma around mental illness is really declining?

Data from YouGov Global Profiles reveals that while three-quarters of global respondents (72%) agree it is important to talk about mental health, only 42% think that stigmas around mental illness are declining.

Over eight out in ten North American (84%) and Northern European (82%) respondents agree that talking about mental health is important. With about two out of three respondents mirroring this sentiment, the APAC (69%) and MENA (66%) markets are the only regions which are outpaced by the global average.

Notably, one in ten adults in MENA (10%), disagree that conversations about mental health are important – the highest among all regions.

The picture is not as consistent, however, when we look at people’s opinions about the stigmas surrounding mental illnesses.

A third of adults (30%) in Eastern Europe agree that such stigmas are declining – the lowest among all markets. It also has the highest number of adults who remain neutral in their opinion (48%).

On the other hand, half of Northern European (52%) and North American (48%) adults say that mental illnesses have less stigma attached to them than before. This could, in part, be a result of the increasing importance placed on mental health conversations across these regions.

Interestingly however, North America is also where more than a third of respondents (31%) disagree, saying that stigmas surrounding mental illness are not declining – something which will disappoint public health campaigners in the region.

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Methodology: YouGov Global Profiles is a globally consistent audience dataset with 1000+ questions across 48 markets. The data is based on continuously collected data from adults aged 16+ years in China and 18+ years in other markets. The sample sizes for YouGov Global Profiles will fluctuate over time, however the minimum sample size is always c.1000. Data from each market uses a nationally representative sample apart from India and UAE, which use urban representative samples, and China, Egypt, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Morocco, Philippines, South Africa, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam, which use online representative samples. Learn more about Global Profiles.