Publication - Research and analysis

Attitudes to Mental Health in Scotland: Scottish Social Attitudes Survey 2013

Published: 10 Nov 2014
Part of:

Report on public attitudes to mental health, based on data collected in the 2013 Scottish Social Attitudes Survey, and comparison with data collected through four previous surveys between 2002 and 2008.

154 page PDF

2.3 MB

154 page PDF

2.3 MB

Attitudes to Mental Health in Scotland: Scottish Social Attitudes Survey 2013

154 page PDF

2.3 MB



2. We use the term 'mental health problem' throughout the report to include the experiences covered by the terms 'mental illness', 'mental disorders' and 'mental ill-health'.

3. One in four British adults experience a diagnosable mental health problem each year, and around one in six at any given time (Office for National Statistics, 2001). One in ten children also have a diagnosable disorder (Office for National Statistics, 2005).

4. Recommendation 4 of the 2001 WHO report includes the statement 'Well-planned public awareness and education campaigns can reduce stigma and discrimination, increase the use of health services, and bring mental and physical health care closer to each other'.


6. From 2002-2013 'see me' was led by an alliance of five organisations: Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH); Support in Mind Scotland (originally known as NSF Scotland); the Royal College of Psychiatrists in Scotland; Penumbra; and the Highland Users Group. See this link for key organisations, funding, etc

7. 'Social marketing' approaches seek to harness commercial marketing techniques with socially minded campaign and change techniques to raise awareness, shift attitudes and ultimately change behaviours around particular, usually health-related, issues.

8. Breathing Space was launched in Glasgow in 2002 and became a national phoneline service in 2004.

9. The six strategic priorities are: mentally healthy infants, children and young people; mentally healthy later life; mentally healthy communities; mentally healthy employment and working life; reducing the prevalence of suicide, self-harm, and common mental health problems; and improving the quality of life of those experiencing mental health problems and mental illness.

10. The seven themes are: working more effectively with families and carers; embedding more peer to peer work and support; increasing the support for self management and self-help approaches; extending the anti-stigma agenda forward to include further work on discrimination; focusing on the rights of those with mental illness; developing the outcomes approach to include personal, social, and clinical outcomes; ensuring we use new technology effectively to provide information and deliver evidence based services.

11. Scottish Government will contribute £3m and Comic Relief will contribute £1.5m to the programme.

12. Responsibility for the delivery of the new programme will be shared by the Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH) and the Mental Health Foundation (MHF).




16. The findings from these surveys have been published by the Scottish Government (Scottish Government, 2002b, 2005, 2007, 2009b).

17. Given that previous Well? surveys focused solely on mental health topics, it was considered appropriate to ask all questions - even those of a sensitive nature - face-to-face. However, as SSA 2013 ranged over a wide number of topics, it was not thought appropriate to do this for the personal experience questions on the mental health module.

18. Four questions on life satisfaction have been asked on SSA since 2006. This analysis uses data from the question on overall life satisfaction: 'And all things considered, how satisfied are you with your life as a whole nowadays?' The question has an 11 point scale running from 0 (extremely dissatisfied) to 10 (extremely satisfied). The mean score for satisfaction with 'life as a whole' was 8.05 in 2013. Three further questions were included in SSA 2013 focusing on satisfaction with job, with family or personal life and with general standard of living.

19. Alzheimer's disease/dementia, anxiety disorder, depression, eating disorder (anorexia, bulimia), manic depression (bipolar affective disorder), nervous breakdown, obsessive/compulsive behaviour/disorder, panic attacks, personality disorder, phobias (e.g. agoraphobia), post-natal depression, schizophrenia, self-harm, severe stress, post traumatic stress disorder.

20. Categories combined to form the anxiety/ stress disorder category were: panic attacks, anxiety disorder, obsessive/compulsive behaviour/disorder, phobias and severe stress.

21. Eight percent had not told anyone, the remaining 7% are people who said 'can't choose or don't know'.

22. This small sample size has an impact on the level of analysis possible, in particular the amount of sub-group analysis which can be applied. All confidence intervals for estimates are much wider than for findings based on the full sample, and statistically significant differences between sub-groups require large differences between the groups under consideration.

23. Scottish Recovery Network. Accessed at:

24. The top 5 factors were explored in relation to differences based on age, gender, income, education and area deprivation.

25. This difference was only marginally significant (p=0.074).

26. p=0.064

27. The average number of responses given in 2013 was 3.01 and in 2008 was 1.83.

28. Overall in 2013 29% of people had 'below average' life satisfaction. The proportion of people who fall into the below average score is low because a large proportion of respondents gave an 'average' score of 8. While the exact mean was 8.39, respondents were only able to respond in whole numbers.

29. These statements were asked in a random order, to minimise the potential for findings to be affected by the ordering of the questions.

30. The other groups asked about were: gypsy/travellers (46%); someone who from time to time experiences depression (41%); someone aged 70 (39%); someone who has had a sex change operation (31%); gay men and lesbians (18%); a Muslim person (15%); a black or Asian person (6%); men (2%) and women (less than 1%).

31. 'Anyone can suffer from mental health problems'; 'The majority of people with mental health problems recover'; and 'People with mental health problems should have the same rights as anyone else'.

32. 'If I was suffering from mental health problems, I wouldn't want people knowing about it'; 'The public should be better protected from people with mental health problems'; 'I would find it hard to talk to someone with mental health problems'; 'People with mental health problems are often dangerous'; and 'People with mental health problems are largely to blame for their own condition'.

33. The ambiguity arises because agreement could mean that people really are caring and sympathetic towards those with mental health problems, or it could mean a lack of awareness of the way people with mental health problems are often stigmatised.

34. See the full report at:

35. See Annex B - Technical Details of the Survey for further description of the regression analysis conducted.

36. One in four British adults experience a diagnosable mental health problem each year, and around one in six at any given time (Office for National Statistics, 2001). One in ten children also have a diagnosable disorder (Office for National Statistics, 2005).

37. See;

38. This question was asked on the self-completion questionnaire which was completed by 1340 respondents.

39. Age is only significant at the 10% level.

40. Once all of these variables are included in a regression model, the differences exhibited according to level of education can be accounted for by those of the other variables.

41. Note that the base for this question is 352. Larger differences between sub-groups are required in order to establish statistical significance.

42. Education is not significantly associated with finding it hard to talk to someone with mental health problems once other factors are taken into account in a regression model.

43. The association between being able to rely on a neighbour and finding it hard to talk to someone with mental health problems is only significant at the 10% level.

44. When bivariate analysis was conducted.

45. These associations were only marginally significant.

46. The Well? surveys used three different scenarios, one describing someone with depression, one describing someone with schizophrenia, and one describing someone with stress. Half the respondents were given versions which described a man, and half given versions describing a woman. In none of the scenarios was the diagnosis mentioned.

47. Age; gender; income; level of education; social class; area deprivation; whether respondent lives in an urban area, small town, or rural area; whether respondent knows someone close who has, or has ever had, a mental health problem; whether respondent personally has, or has ever had, a mental health problem; if respondent thinks other people can generally be trusted; whether respondent could rely on a neighbour to look after their home (a measure of community support); if respondent thinks Scotland would lose its identity with more immigration from specific groups (a measure of attitudes to ethnic diversity).

48. Respondents were asked to list up to three sources of help.

49. Respondents who chose 'you can't be too careful in dealing with people' rather than 'most people can be trusted'.

50. Being willing to make friends with someone with schizophrenia, have them as a work colleague, spend an evening socialising with them, move next door to them, have them marry into the family, and have them provide childcare for a family member.

51. Having personal experience of mental health problems also increased the likelihood of being willing to have someone with schizophrenia provide childcare in the bivariate analysis, however, this was no longer significant when other factors were taken into account in the regression analysis.

52. Whether people agreed that Scotland would lose its identity if there was more immigration showed some weaker associations with the different aspects of interaction. Other differences such as those based on level of education, on knowing someone with depression, or having personal experience of mental ill-health were not significant in the regression analysis.

53. Factors that were still significant after the regression analysis.

54. Personal and indirect experience of mental health were significant in the bivariate analysis but were no longer significant in the regression analysis.

55. Sources include: the Scottish Health Survey; the Scottish Household Survey; the Scottish Crime and Justice Survey; the Scottish House Conditions Survey; Annual Population Survey; Scottish House Conditions Survey; Scottish Social Attitudes survey; National Records Scotland; the Family Resources Survey

56. Based on scoring 2 or above on the CAGE alcohol dependency questionnaire, indicating possible alcohol dependency in the previous 3 months.

57. Although these (four) attitudes have fluctuated over time there has been no consistent pattern of either increase or decrease in the proportions adopting stigmatising attitudes.

58. No comparisons over time are possible because of changes to question wording between years.

59. Like many national surveys of households or individuals, in order to attain the optimum balance between sample efficiency and fieldwork efficiency the sample was clustered. The first stage of sampling involved randomly selecting postcode sectors. The sample frame of postcode sectors was also stratified (by urban-rural, region and the percentage of people in non-manual occupations) to improve the match between the sample profile and that of the Scottish population. For further details of the sample design, see Para 6 below.

60. See for details.

61. See for further details on the SIMD.

62. These variables were created by the ScotCen/NatCen Survey Methods Unit. They are based on SIMD scores for all datazones, not just those included in the sample - so an individual who lives in the most deprived quintile of Scotland will also be included in the most deprived quintile in the SSA dataset.


Email: Fiona MacDonald