We wanted to know what people’s experiences of discrimination look like in England and how common this is.
We did this through involvement in Viewpoint, a major annual survey measuring anticipated and actual experiences of mental health stigma and discrimination among adult mental health service users across England.
The project was part of the evaluation for the Time to Change programme, carried out in partnership with the Institute of Psychiatry at Kings College London.
We were also keen to see whether the amount of discrimination in England was changing over time, to understand whether or not the Time to Change programme was having a positive impact.
People with mental health issues often report experiencing some form of mental health stigma and discrimination. This can worsen their mental health issues, delay access to help and treatment, and lead to social isolation.
People with mental health issues are also less likely than the general population to have decent housing, be in employment, be socially included, or have good physical health. Negative attitudes towards them contribute to all of these outcomes.
The Viewpoint Survey findings raised awareness of this topic while allowing us to understand reported discrimination and stigma in order to target anti-stigma campaigns more effectively.
The survey tool used in Viewpoint, designed by researchers at the Institute of Psychiatry, has been adopted in countries across the world to evidence reported discrimination. Alongside public attitudes survey findings, this data is helping build a global alliance of anti-stigma activities and partnerships.
We ran the survey each year from its start in 2008 until it ended in 2015.
Each year, adults receiving secondary mental health services through five different NHS trusts were invited to take part in a telephone interview.
People who wanted to take part were telephoned by a trained researcher, most of whom are peer researchers with personal or family experience of mental health issues.
Participants were asked whether they had experienced discrimination because of their mental health issues in a number of different life areas over the past year, such as housing, employment, and family life.
We compared the data each year to see whether discrimination was increasing or decreasing for people in contact with secondary mental health services.
The main project was a quantitative study but we also trained a small team of peer researchers to conduct semi-structured qualitative interviews over the phone, to further understand experiences of discrimination and address the following key questions:
- What types of behaviour were most commonly reported as discriminatory?
- How does discrimination vary across different kinds of relationships?
- How far are the messages of the Time to Change campaign targeting the types of behaviour reported?
The Viewpoint Survey came to an end after funding through Time to Change finished. The last survey ran in 2014 with results reported in 2015.
Several publications from Viewpoint have been produced. We have also presented at conferences.
Find out more about the findings in the papers:
- England’s Time to Change Antistigma Campaign: One-Year Outcomes of Service User-Rated Experiences of Discrimination | Psychiatric Services (psychiatryonline.org)
- Experiences of discrimination among people Using mental health services in England 2008-2011 | The British Journal of Psychiatry | Cambridge Core
- Discrimination against people with a mental health diagnosis: qualitative analysis of reported experiences: Journal of Mental Health: Vol 23, No 2 (informahealthcare.com)
- The effect of disclosure of mental illness by interviewers on reports of discrimination experienced by service users: A randomized study: International Review of Psychiatry: Vol 23, No 1 (informahealthcare.com)
We sought continuation funding for Viewpoint Survey and remain committed alongside our colleagues at the Institute of Psychiatry to attempting to re-start the surveys in the future.
Read more about the final outcomes of the Viewpoint survey on our blog.
For more information on the project please email [email protected].
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Work with us
We are always excited to hear from others who want to collaborate on mental health research. From delivering peer research to helping you with public involvement strategies and providing training, get in touch to chat.