Almost half of Canadians believe that a diagnosis of mental illness is merely an "excuse for poor behaviour and personal failings" and one in 10 thinks that people with mental illness could "just snap out of it if they wanted," according to the startling findings of a new opinion poll.
The survey, commissioned by the Canadian Medical Association, shows that the stigma of mental illness remains pervasive, making it the "final frontier of socially acceptable discrimination," Canada's top doctor says.
Brian Day, a Vancouver orthopedic surgeon and president of the CMA, said the survey "shines a harsh, and frankly unflattering, light on the attitudes we Canadians have concerning mental health."
But he added that it is best to expose such views and tackle them head-on rather than allow stigma to fester. "It's important that these data be out there and we discuss them," Dr. Day said.
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