Proposed changes to Disability Discrimination Law hailed as "significant victory" by Mind
Posted Thursday 15 July 2004
Government decisions on Disability Discrimination Act "a step towards equality" for people with mental health problems.
Leading mental health charity Mind today (15 July) hailed the Government's announcement of changes to Disability Discrimination law as a significant victory. A number of the points Mind campaigned for were upheld in today's announcement, in a move which the charity described as a step towards equality for people with mental health problems. However, Mind insisted that more remains to be done before the law ceases to discriminate against people with mental health problems altogether.
Current law requires a person to have a clinically well-recognised illness before they can be classified as disabled. Mind argued that this requirement, which is not the case for people with other disabilities, is discriminatory. The Government today upheld Mind's point, and abolished this requirement altogether.
The list of day-to-day activities that must be affected by a person's disability are currently geared heavily towards physical disability. Although it is not proposed to incorporate Mind's recommendations in this area into the law, the Government has promised to revise the statutory guidance, which governs the implementation of the law, to make the rights of people with mental health problems clearer .
Richard Brook, Chief Executive of Mind, said:
"Mind has put a lot of effort into making sure the views and needs of people with mental health problems were fully represented in the debate around disability discrimination law, and we are delighted that the Government has agreed to incorporate our main points into its proposed new laws. This is a step towards giving people with mental health problems the same rights as people who have other types of disabilities, and ensuring them better chances in employment, education, and access to goods and services."
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 Mind has also vowed not to forget the remaining arguments not upheld in today's decision. In particular, the charity is concerned that people with depression are only covered by disability discrimination law if their condition is long-term - ie, lasting more than 12 months. Although Mind wanted to see this time limit significantly shortened, the Government have not agreed on this point. Mind will continue to raise the matter wherever possible in order to press for change in any subsequent amendments to the Act.