Survey points to growing awareness of mental health

Cai Wenjun
Public knowledge of mental illness continues to improve, yet many still attribute it to work stress, according to Shanghai health officials.
Cai Wenjun

Awareness and acceptance of mental illness has improved among local residents, local health authorities announced on Thursday, which also marked World Mental Health Day.

These statements were based on a Shanghai Health Commission survey of some 1,900 adults across the city. Participants were questioned on their knowledge of mental health, their ability to identify symptoms of mental illness, as well as their attitudes toward people with mental health issues. It has been the fourth such survey conducted in Shanghai since 2011. 

According to the latest results, over 76 percent of respondents have a basic understanding of mental illness, while those holding discriminatory attitudes toward sufferers dropped below 40 percent for the first time, according to the commission.

“Public understanding of mental health and mental disease has improved in recent years. Yet most people still misunderstand mental disease and attribute it to work stress. They don’t know that mental illness is a disease which can have biological and genetic origins,” said Dr He Yanling from the Shanghai Mental Health Center and a leading researcher on the survey.

Though public understanding of mental disease has been rising, those with enough awareness to seek professional medical help remained largely unchanged, the survey found.

“There is still discrimination against mental disease sufferers, as about half of residents believe that sufferers may do something bad or even hurt others,” He said. “There is still a long way to promote knowledge on mental health and remove public bias against mental diseases.”

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