A global survey of people with schizophrenia in 27 different countries has suggested they are more likely to experience discrimination by those closest to them than employers or officials.
The survey, which was compiled by Kings College, London, quizzed 730 respondentsfrom countries in Western and Eastern Europe, as well as India, Malaysia and the US.
Twenty-five people in each country deemed to be sufficiently representative were questioned in face-to-face interviews and were asked to evaluate their treatment across a range of fields from personal relationships to purchasing insurance or taking out a bank loan.
Nearly half (43%) reported negative treatment by relatives and friends after diagnosis while approximately a third (29%) said they had encountered problems when seeking or keeping a job.
The survey, which was published in The Lancet this week, also found that anticipation of discrimination was higher than the actual experience of it. For example more than 60% of respondents had expected to be discriminated against to some degree when it came to seeking work but fewer than 30% actually experienced negative treatment.
Commenting on this aspect of the study Professor Graham Thornicroft, lead author of the report, said that a problem of the gulf between expectations and reality meant many people with schizophrenia do not even try looking for work in the first place.
He suggested employers need to do more to show they can accommodate people with mental health problems “but it’s not just a question of more legislation”.
Overall researchers discovered that the experiences of respondents were remarkably consistent across the world.
“Attitudes have to change as all the research shows it’s people’s responses to those with mental health problems which can make dealing with the condition a lot harder,” said Professor Thornicroft.
For more information on the survey please visit the King’s College London website at: http://www.kcl.ac.uk/