PEOPLE with experience of complex mental illness are being asked to share their views with “first-of-its-kind” research.

The Scottish Mental Illness Stigma Survey is recruiting participants aged 18 and over to help shape policy and support services.

Scotland’s national programme to end mental health stigma and discrimination, See Me, is running the research.

Director Wendy Halliday said: “The Scottish Mental Illness Stigma Survey will allow us, for the first time ever, to build a more complete picture of the stigma and discrimination that those with the most serious, complex mental health conditions in Scotland face.

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“This is a really exciting piece of work, with real potential to make a difference for thousands of people.

“By taking part, participants will be a part of the See Us movement, taking action which will create real change for themselves and those who need it, by identifying where stigma and discrimination is worst.”

Liam Rankin, from East Kilbride, was diagnosed with schizophrenia at the age of 16.

Now 53, he has experienced stigma and discrimination in a range of different settings over the years because of his mental health condition.

Rankin said: “I’ve had some people react really negatively to me – I used to coach a kids’ football team, and when one of the dads found out about my mental health, he challenged me. He said I wasn’t safe to be working with kids.

“I’ve seen stigma in the workplace, in the police service, in healthcare.

“Recently, I had to go to accident and emergency after hurting myself, and a doctor told me that I was wasting their resources because I’d done this to myself.

“By listening to people’s experiences, we can make change.

“More serious mental health problems are still hugely stigmatised in society, in the media, in books and in films.

“People assume they understand what it is – but this survey will show what life is really like.

“By taking part in the survey, you can have a real impact – for yourself, for your family and friends, and for other people who are struggling.”

The research project is one of the first major activities to come from See Me’s recently launched See Us movement to end mental health stigma and discrimination in Scotland.

The survey is open to both people who have received a formal diagnosis, as well as those who have not been diagnosed formally but believe they may be experiencing one or more complex mental illnesses.

It is being run in partnership with Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU).

GCU’s professor of applied psychology Simon Hunter, who is also the child and adolescent health research group lead, said: “This ground-breaking research is a wonderful opportunity for people to share their experiences of stigma related to severe, complex and/or enduring mental illnesses.

“Stigma can be present in many areas of people’s lives, from housing and employment to the relationships we have with friends and family.

“I’m immensely proud to be involved in this project and expect it to inform our national strategies tackling this type of stigma in the coming years.

“Applying psychology to real-life issues is core to our mission in psychology at Glasgow Caledonian University and this project will contribute toward the university’s aim of working for the common good in society.”

Lee Knifton, director of the Mental Health Foundation in Scotland and Northern Ireland, hailed the potential of the search.

He said: “Whilst knowledge and attitudes towards people with mental health problems is improving, there is still a long way to go to achieve equality and justice. Prejudice remains widespread.

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“The findings of the Scottish Mental Illness Stigma Survey will help us build an essential evidence base that will shape our priorities, and that of the Scottish Government more broadly, in the years to come.

“By ensuring that we listen and respond to the priorities of people in Scotland who live with mental health conditions, we can create a Scotland that is free of mental health stigma and discrimination.”

The first report on the findings will be available in the first quarter of 2022.

The study team has also requested that the survey is not promoted directly to NHS services or patients, or by supporting recruitment through an NHS role, for example through sharing it via an NHS email, due to the ethical parameters of the research.

Potential participants can find full information, including eligibility requirements, at