Leading mental health organisations welcome MP vote to scrap outdated, discriminatory laws
Posted Friday 14 September 2012
Leading mental health organisations have come together today to applaud MPs for voting through legislation to scrap outdated laws that discriminate against people with mental health problems.
On 14 September, MPs voted in favour of the Mental Health (Discrimination) Bill, which will now go through to the Committee stage.
If eventually passed, it will put an end to archaic laws which interfere with the rights of people with mental health problems from participating in jury service and becoming or remaining a company director. It will also change a law that currently stipulates that MPs themselves will lose their seats if sectioned under the Mental Health Act, regardless of recovery.
Paul Farmer, CEO of Mind said: “This is a momentous day for this country. We are shattering the glass ceiling that has for so long existed in mental health and prevented people from playing an active role in society. Parliament, juries and companies will be more representative and will all benefit from the changes outlined in this landmark Bill.
We are finally starting to make some significant leaps forward in removing the stigma that exists around mental health. However, tackling mental health discrimination is the task of a generation. It is this type of change that is taking us further down the road and will help to end discrimination in due course.”
Paul Jenkins, CEO of Rethink Mental Illness said: “We are absolutely delighted that MPs have taken action to scrap these outdated, deeply unfair rules. This Bill sends a clear message that people with mental health problems can and should be able to fully contribute to society on an equal footing to everyone else.”
"It's absurd that capable, intelligent people are being excluded from key aspects of citizenship, based purely on the fact they have an illness. People with physical illnesses such as cancer would never be treated in this way, and it’s great to see politicians from all parties joining together get rid of these discriminatory laws.”
Sue Baker, Director of Time to Change, said: "This is another historic step towards ending the widespread discrimination that people with mental health problems face, and will help us to overturn generations of stigma and prejudice. There is no reason why people with mental health problems should not be fit to hold public office, and the fact that this is finally being recognised by Parliament sends a very positive message to the millions of people affected by mental health problems that they have just as great a contribution to make to society as anyone else.
“We recently saw four MPs speak out in Parliament about their experiences of mental health problems, and in Norway we have seen a Prime Minister remain in office while dealing with depression. Legislation which prevents those of us who have a mental health problem from fulfilling our potential is not only a great waste of talent, but also fuels stigma and discrimination."
Professor Sue Bailey, President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists said: “I am delighted that Members of Parliament have supported the Mental Health Discrimination Bill which goes some way to removing the stigma associated with mental health problems. I hope that it will soon enter the statute book and eradicate one of the last bastions of legalised discrimination. We are proud that so many MPs have supported the campaign and agreed with us that there should be an end to the stigma around mental health. This sends a clear message that such discrimination has no place in today’s society.”
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Notes to editors
The Mental Health (Discrimination) (No2) Bill
The Mental Health (Discrimination) Bill was first introduced in April 2011, by Lord Stevenson of Coddenham. At the Bill’s second reading in the House of Lords on Friday 25 November 2011 it received the support of the government but unfortunately ran out of Parliamentary time. It was brought back as a Private Members Bill in June 2012 by Gavin Barwell MP and received its second reading on Friday, 14th September. It will now go to the Committee stage for further scrutiny and debate.
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. www.mind.org.uk
For more information, interviews and case studies please contact the Mind media team on T: 020 8522 1743 M: 07850 788514 E: email@example.com ISDN line available: 020 8221 0817
Please note that Mind is not an acronym and should be set in title case.
Rethink Mental Illness
Rethink Mental Illness is a charity that believes a better life is possible for millions of people affected by mental illness.
For 40 years we have brought people together to support each other. We run services and support groups that change people’s lives and challenge attitudes about mental illness.
We directly support almost 60,000 people every year across England to get through crises, to live independently and to realise they are not alone.
We give information and advice to 500,000 more and we change policy for millions.
For more information go to www.rethink.org
Time to Change
Time to Change is England's most ambitious programme to end the stigma and discrimination faced by people with mental health problems. The programme is run by the charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness, and funded by the Department of Health and Comic Relief.
For more information go to www.time-to-change.org.uk
The Royal College of Psychiatrists
The Royal College of Psychiatrists delivers programmes which make a difference to the everyday lives of people with mental health problems, and those working with them.