Four in five say mental health as important as physical

Four in five say mental health as important as physical – but just one in five think NHS treats it that way. The research, by Ipsos MORI and the Policy Institute at King’s College London, reveals attitudes towards mental health around the world.

According to a new global survey for World Mental Health Day, Britain is second only to Sweden for acceptance of public officials who have experienced mental health issues, with just 12% saying anyone with a history of mental illness should be excluded from public office. By contrast, the same figure for Russia is 76%, making it the least tolerant country by this measure.

The findings are based on a survey of more than 20,000 people across 29 countries, including over 1,000 in Britain, between 23 August – 6 September 2019.

Other findings include:

  • Globally, a quarter (25%) of 16-34-year-olds think about their mental health very often – the most of any age group. By contrast, just one in eight (12%) over-65s think about their own mental health very often.
  • Colombians (76%), Mexicans (73%) and Brazilians (73%) are most likely to say they think about their own mental wellbeing very or fairly often, while Russians (25%), South Koreans (37%) and Saudi Arabians (42%) are least likely to.
  • People in Japan (41%), Brazil (44%) and Peru (45%) are least likely to agree that mental illness is an illness like any other.
  • People in South Korea (31%) and Japan (47%) are least likely to agree that we need to adopt a far more tolerant attitude towards people with mental illness. By contrast, those in Latin American countries – Mexico (85%), Peru (85%), Chile (85%), Colombia (84%) and Argentina (84%) – are most likely to.
  • In all countries surveyed, a majority say mental and physical health are equally important.
In total, 20,003 interviews were conducted between 23 August – 6 September 2019. The survey was conducted in 30 countries around the world, via the Ipsos Online Panel system in Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, Great Britain, USA, Malaysia, Colombia, Chile, Israel, Peru and Serbia.
Approximately 1000 individuals aged 16+ were surveyed in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Great Britain, India, Italy, Spain and the USA. Approximately 500 individuals aged were surveyed the remaining countries.
Where results do not sum to 100 or the ‘difference’ appears to be+-1 more/less than the actual, this may be due to rounding, multiple responses or the exclusion of don't knows or not stated responses.
Data are weighted to match the profile of the population.