Mind takes up legal challenge of tackling mental health discrimination
Posted Monday 15 December 2008
Leading mental health charity Mind today (Monday 15 December) launches Time to Challenge, a groundbreaking legal project which will help people with mental health problems who have experienced discrimination to get their cases through the courts. Mind is seeking cases that concern points of law that, if changed, could potentially set a legal precedent and have positive implications for all mental health service users.
Using its in-house team of lawyers and external barristers, Mind will use the existing laws on discrimination on the grounds of mental health such as the Disability Discrimination Act to show that mental health discrimination is not acceptable.
Mind will take on cases that challenge discrimination in the following six areas:
- Where a person has experienced unfair dismissal, constructive dismissal or redundancy on the grounds of mental health.
- Where primary care trusts or other health care trusts have cut mental health treatments or services unreasonably or without consultation.
- Where primary care trusts or other health care trusts have inappropriately used information about someone’s mental health retained under the Data Protection Act.
- Where someone has received less favourable treatment in the provision of a service in comparison to someone not experiencing mental health problems e.g. by local councils, government departments, the emergency services, banks, etc.
- Where someone has been refused insurance cover on the grounds of their mental health.
- Where a person has been discriminated against because of their association with a disabled person.
Mind will be empowering individuals to tackle discrimination, too, by providing online information for both employers and employees on rights and discrimination in the workplace.
Mind’s Head of Legal, Tracy Jenkins said:
“People with mental health problems face widespread discrimination on a daily basis, from stigma in their communities to discrimination in their jobs and dealings with public services. Everyday things we take for granted, such as applying for travel insurance, can be a legal quagmire for people with mental distress. Mind is actively seeking mental health cases from law firms who are unable to pursue them, so that discrimination on mental health grounds will not go unchallenged.”
Solicitor General, Vera Baird QC MP, who is supporting Mind in the launch of hte legal unit, said:
"People with first hand experience of mental distress can often feel isolated and unsupported when dealing with the law.
“The opening of this unit is incredibly significant as it puts the spotlight on how cases involving people who have mental health problems are dealt with and the continued need to address any inequalities.
“This is an area that we take very seriously, and I am delighted that the Crown Prosecution Service have also launched a consultation into protecting the rights of victims and witnesses who experience mental distress and, or, with learning disabilities. It demonstrates that we are committed to identifying best practice and to improving upon the level of support provided when dealing with these cases.”
Time to Challenge is one strand of Time to Change the biggest and most ambitious programme ever campaigning to end discrimination around mental health. It is being led by Mind, Rethink, Mental Health Media and the Institute of Psychiatry. Time to Change is mental health's biggest ever voluntary-sector led initiative with funding from the Big Lottery Fund’s Wellbeing programme (£16m) and the largest grant ever given by Comic Relief (£2m). www.time-to-change.org.uk
Mind’s legal unit currently supports thousands of people each year, providing individual advice, legal briefings and legal representation in individual cases. Mind’s lawyers have a strong reputation for taking test cases to establish legal precedents in the area of mental health law and human rights legislation. If you have a mental health discrimination case you would like the legal unit to consider, please contact email@example.com for more details.
Notes to editors
- Mind is the leading mental health charity in England and Wales. We work to create a better life for everyone with experience of mental distress.
- For more information or interviews please contact the Mind media team on T: 020 8522 1743 M: 07850 788514 E: firstname.lastname@example.org ISDN line available: 020 8221 0817
- Please note that Mind is not an acronym and should be set in title case.