Objectives. Mental health has become a focus of interest for societies and international health care organisations in recent years. Since in Poland it is difficult to attract to this issue a similar attention of authorities and circles influencing the public opinion, a question arises whether this situation meets or rather signifies disregard for expectations of the society In the study an attempt was made to learn about the Polish society's apprehensions concerning mental health.
Methods. The opinion poll was conducted on a representative random sample of adult inhabitants of Poland (N= 1037) by the Opinion Poll Centre network in June 2005, as a monthly poll on "Current problems and events".
Results. Almost every third respondent categorized mental illness among the most feared conditions, while almost a half (45%) admitted to being sometimes anxious about their own mental health. Slightly over a half (53%) have had personally met someone with mental disorders; as few as every fifth (18%) have done so by means of mass media only, while about a third of the respondents (29%) have never had such an experience. No more than a third of the society (27%) consider themselves to be sufficiently informed about mental health and mental illness, while almost a half (44%) would like to know more about this issue. As regards living conditions perceived as a mental health risk, the following were most often indicated: joblessness (77%), family crisis (47%), poverty (41%), alcohol and drug abuse (39%), and insecurity of the near future (25%). A vast majority of Poles under study (85%) believe that living conditions in Poland are harmful to mental health and that a national mental health program should be developed so as to prevent mental health risks and to modernize psychiatric services.
Conclusions. The opinion poll findings seem to indicate that a large proportion of the society are anxious about their own mental health. Poles consider current living conditions in Poland to be detrimental to mental health and expect that a program of systematic mental disorder prevention should be implemented.