Mind celebrates change to discriminatory laws

Published on Thursday, 28 February 2013 14:42
Posted by Vicki Mitchem

The Mental Health (Discrimination) Bill 2013 receives Royal Assent today and becomes an Act – meaning it is enshrined in law. It puts an end to three specific outdated laws which fed into the discriminatory and antiquated idea that people with mental health problems can never recover, and cannot be trusted to participate in social, political or economic life; or hold responsible roles.

Lord Dennis Stevenson of Coddenham and Gavin Barwell MP have worked together to ensure the Bill, which was first introduced in 2011, passed safely through both Houses of Parliament. Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of Mind says:

"This is a momentous occasion for anyone affected by mental health problems and a watershed moment for attitudes to mental health. Parliament has not just repealed antiquated rules that have no place in our society; it has sent a clear message to the wider public that discrimination on mental health grounds will no longer be tolerated."

"We are delighted with this outcome, which comes as a result of years of tireless campaigning by Mind, our supporters, and other mental health organisations. We are a step closer today to achieving true equality for the one in four of us who has a mental health problem."

There are three provisions of the Act. One overturns a section of the Mental Health Act 1983 under which an MP automatically loses their seat if they are sectioned under the Mental Health Act for more than six months. A second removes the blanket ban on people receiving treatment for their mental health from serving on a jury and removes mention of 'mentally disordered persons' from the Juries Act 1974. The final one eliminates a provision that allows a director of a public or private company to be removed from their position 'by reason of their mental health'.

Mind is thrilled that these discriminatory laws have been scrapped, but we know that there is long way to go until people with mental health problems are treated fairly, positively and with respect. That's why we continue to campaign around improvements to mental health services, the welfare system and to combat stigma and discrimination, amongst other things. Find out how you can help us campaign for a better deal for people with mental health problems.

Source: Mind

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