International YouGov data shows that a third (32%) of people across 17 international markets say they would feel uncomfortable taking medicine for a mental health issue such as depression or anxiety if they needed to do so. While the global public are more likely to be happy taking these medicines than not, the proportion varies heavily from country to country.
France, for example, is the only European nation in our poll where people are more likely to say they’re uncomfortable taking mental health medication than comfortable. Overall, 45% would not be happy to take medicine for an issue such as depression or anxiety, while two in five (41%) would. Recent headlines have suggested that there is some social stigma around mental health issues within France, and that mental health services have been underfunded. Germany also has higher proportions of people who would feel uncomfortable taking mental health medications (36%) and lower proportions of people who would feel comfortable (50%).
The picture across the rest of Europe is more accepting of medication. In Sweden (62%) and Spain (59%), for example, three in five say they’d feel comfortable taking medication for a mental health issue – with a quarter of Swedes (24%) and a third of Spaniards (33%) saying the reverse. In Britain, 56% are fine with this kind of treatment compared to 24% who are not.
The picture is similarly scattershot in other markets. In North America, for example, Mexican people have higher levels of aversion to mental health medication than the average (51% comfortable vs. 41% uncomfortable) – and in the US, 37% are uncomfortable compared to three in five (60%) who are comfortable.
In the States, both of these attitudes may be partially explained with data from YouGov Profiles. Some 45%, for example, say that stigmas around mental illnesses are declining – but 36% say they are not. One in nine members of the US public (11%) go as far as to say that mental illnesses are not real illnesses. But reluctance to take medication – in all markets – may also simply suggest a preference for other types of treatment, such as talking therapy, over medicines.
Research was conducted in March 2021 across multiple markets. Overall regional sample sizes are between 504 (Hong Kong) and 2,251 (US). The data is weighted in to be representative of the adult (18+) population in each country individually.