The National Stigma Report Card is a world-leading project designed to understand how stigma and discrimination affect people living with complex mental health issues. It is the flagship project of SANE Australia’s Anne Deveson Research Centre and is conducted in partnership with the Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences at the University of Melbourne, with the support of the Paul Ramsay Foundation. A national survey, Our Turn to Speak, was launched to understand people’s experiences and what needs to change to ensure all Australians live long and fulfilling lives, free from stigma and discrimination. The survey, the first to look so comprehensively at this issue in Australia, explores how stigma and discrimination affects people with complex mental health issues across many aspects of their lives. For many people, participating in the survey represented the first time they have had the opportunity to reflect on and share their experiences in such a holistic way. The findings of the survey are presented in the National Stigma Report Card. It draws on the insights from the almost 2,000 people who participated in survey. Overall, the findings speak to a pervasive pattern of stigma and discrimination that negatively affects the lives of Australians living with complex mental health issues. This is a rallying cry for all of us to re-commit to our efforts to create an Australia where people affected by complex mental health issues are supported and included as equal members of our community. The National Stigma Report Card findings strongly reinforce the importance of organisations and individuals continuing to collaborate to build an Australia – and a world – free from stigma and discrimination. Image Summary of findings The National Stigma Report Card findings show that people living with complex mental health issues experience stigma and discrimination across many aspects of their lives. Of the 14 life domains explored in the Our Turn to Speak survey, their experiences of stigma and discrimination in their interpersonal relationships were of greatest concern to participants. Negative experiences were often noted to be frequent and impactful. These experiences of stigma and discrimination were regularly observed alongside participants’ anxious anticipation of similar future experiences and withdrawal from opportunities. Stigma regarding other personal characteristics was also reported to be an issue for many, with physical health and ability consistently raised as participants’ main intersectional concern. Participants also shared their experiences of positive experiences in relation to their mental health issues in each life domain. Overall, the findings speak to a pervasive pattern of stigma and discrimination that negatively affects the lives of Australians living with complex mental health issues. Explore the findings in more detail Stigma and discrimination There are many forms of stigma in society. Some are based on negative attitudes or beliefs; others are due to a lack of understanding or misinformation. In the context of the National Stigma Report Card, stigma describes negative and damaging stereotyped ideas and emotional responses relating to complex mental health issues. The key perceptions underpinning stigma are that someone is flawed, undesirable or threatening because of their experience of complex mental health issues. This is simply not true. Stigma can lead to a lack of support or empathy for people living with a mental health issue, leaving them embarrassed, misunderstood and marginalised. Stigma often comes from others, but it can also come from yourself if you have internalised the negative stereotypes. This is known as self-stigma. The effects of stigma can be as distressing as the mental health issue the person is facing, and can result in tangible negative outcomes such as symptoms being ignored, poor recovery and lower quality of life due to isolation. Discrimination occurs when stigma is expressed through negative actions or behaviour towards people living with complex mental health issues. Stigma and discrimination are often very real concerns for people living with complex mental health issues. A lot has been achieved in the last two decades in terms of de-stigmatising common mental health conditions such as mild-to-moderate depression and anxiety. However, SANE Australia’s work with people living with complex mental health issues shows there is still much more to be done for people with less common or well understood conditions. The task of ‘stigma reduction’ is by no means complete. Image Real people, real stories People with lived experience of complex mental health issues have guided all aspects of this project. They are experts about their own experiences. The voices of people with lived experience must be the cornerstone of policy decisions and system redesign, to ensure change is effective and sustainable. View all stories The research The Our Turn to Speak survey ran between October 2019 and March 2020, during which period 1,912 people from across Australia took part online, over the phone or in person. Through the survey, people living with complex mental health issues shared their experiences of how stigma and discrimination affect 14 aspects of their everyday lives: Relationships Employment Healthcare services Social media Mental healthcare services Mass media Welfare and social services Education and training Financial and insurance services Housing and homelessness services Cultural, faith or spiritual practices and communities Sports, community groups and volunteering Public and recreational spaces Legal and justice services The survey was open to any adult living in Australia who had experienced at least one of the following complex mental health issues in the previous 12 months: schizophrenia spectrum disorders (such as schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder or schizophreniform disorder) bipolar-related disorders personality disorders (such as but not limited to borderline personality disorder) obsessive-compulsive and related disorders (such as OCD, body-dysmorphic disorder, excoriation disorder, trichotillomania or hoarding disorder) trauma-related and dissociative disorders dissociative disorders eating disorders (such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder, and binge-eating disorder) severe and treatment-resistant depression and anxiety requiring multi-agency support. Read the full report Read the report summary Read the Recommendations for action Frequently Asked Questions Do you have a question about the National Stigma Report Card or the Our Turn to Speak survey? Check to see if your question has been answered below. 1 Terminology: what are ‘complex mental health issues’? Read more 2 Terminology: what are stigma and discrimination? Read more 3 Research: How did the Our Turn to Speak survey work? Read more See all frequently asked questions Couldn’t find the answer to your question? If your question isn’t included in this list, please get in touch with the National Stigma Report Card team.