A survey hailed as the "first of its kind" is calling on people across Ayrshire to help shape future policy on complex mental health issues.

Those who have experience of illnesses are being urged to share their views on stigma and discrimination.

Participants aged 18 and over are being recruited by See Me and the Mental Health Foundation Scotland.

Both bodies are working in partnership with Glasgow Caledonian University to create the Scottish Mental Illness Stigma Survey.

It will explore how and where people face stigma, self-stigma, the impact it has on them, and what needs to be done to make their lives better.

See Me volunteer spokesperson Liam Rankin 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.

He 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.

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"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.”

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

“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 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.

Wendy Halliday, director of See Me, added: “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.

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

Potential participants can find more information at seemescotland.org/StigmaSurvey.

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