Barometer of mental health
In 2009, Fondation FondaMental commissioned the survey company Ipsos to carry out a study on the perception and representations of mental illness in France.
The results of the survey showed a considerable discrepancy between the reputation of these illnesses and the actual knowledge French people have concerning them.
47% of the population surveyed associated mental illness with negative terms (dumb, retarded, insane, crazy …).
“Social acceptance” according to the illness
Amongst the three mental disorders more specifically studied by Fondation FondaMental, schizophrenia is without doubt the one that causes most concern.
- 74% of French citizens consider schizophrenia as a danger to his/her own self;
- 65% as being dangerous to others (even though statistics show that only 0.2% of patients with schizophrenia can be potentially dangerous to others).
On the other hand, the level of “social acceptance” is higher for manic-depressive illnesses and autism: 80% of those surveyed would agree to work with an autistic person (67% for manic depressives) and 90% would allow their children to be in the same class as an autistic child (65% for manic depressives).
The fact that the general public knows more about these illnesses, which have been the subject of information campaigns, tends to prove that communication and information contribute significantly to changing the way mental illness is portrayed.
French people still find it hard to say that they themselves have a mental disorder (only 5% declared that they suffered or had suffered from a mental illness) but on the other hand 62% felt that they could one day fall victim to a mental illness.
A challenge for public health
The prevalence of mental illness in France however was correctly estimated. The people surveyed estimated that 27% of the French population had been, are, or one day will be, affected by mental illness. This corresponds to the official statistics on the illness at the European level!
Lack of information fuels doubts regarding the effectiveness of treatments and research performances. More than one third of the persons surveyed considered medicinal or psychotherapeutic treatments to be ineffective and a large majority (70%) felt that these illnesses were diagnosed too late. In addition, 51% of French people considered research to be ineffective, even though they were almost unanimous (90%) in stating that it should be a public health priority. Two thirds of the population surveyed considered information on mental illness to be insufficient.
Results of IPSOS survey