A Lanarkshire volunteer diagnosed with schizophrenia is calling on people with experience of complex mental illnesses to share their views and experiences of stigma and discrimination.

See Me volunteer spokesperson Liam Rankin, from East Kilbride, was diagnosed 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.

Led by See Me – Scotland’s national programme to end mental health stigma and discrimination – and the Mental Health Foundation Scotland, in partnership with Glasgow Caledonian University, the Scottish Mental Illness Stigma Survey is recruiting participants aged 18 and over from across Scotland, who have experience of severe, complex and/or enduring mental illnesses.

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The in-depth survey seeks to find out more about the real-life experiences of people with complex mental illnesses and the stigma that they continue to face. The survey will explore how and where people face stigma, self-stigma, the impact this has on them, and what needs to be done to make their lives better.

Liam told Lanarkshire Live : “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.”

Liam knows that he’s not alone in these experiences – and says that the survey has real potential to make a difference for people like him.

He added: “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.

The data collected through the survey will be analysed and used to address some of the most pervasive and severe stigma and discrimination that people in Scotland with experience of mental illnesses face.

Wendy Halliday, director of See Me, said: “The 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.

“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.”

Potential participants can find full information, including eligibility requirements, online.

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