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The Royal College of Psychiatrists Improving the lives of people with mental illness

Film launched to raise awareness of mental health discrimination

Embargoed until 29 August 2012

The Royal College of Psychiatrists is proud to have been involved in a new online film to publicise a Bill aimed at reducing mental health discrimination.

The film contains contributions from the College’s President, Professor Sue Bailey, Mind Chief Executive Paul Farmer, Rethink Mental Illness Chief Executive Paul Jenkins, Gavin Barwell MP, and people who have faced discrimination simply due to their mental health conditions.

The Bill received government support last year but ran out of parliamentary time and has been reintroduced to the Commons by Croydon Central MP Gavin Barwell.

Mr Barwell said: "The main purpose of the Bill is to send a very clear message that having a mental health problem is nothing to be ashamed of, it’s like any other kind of health problem, and that you shouldn’t be discriminated against on the basis of law."

The Bill aims to:

 

  • Remove the blanket ban that forbids people who suffer or have suffered from a mental disorder or regularly attending for treatment undertaking jury service.
  • Amend legislation which states that a person might cease to be a director of a public or private company “by reason of their mental health”.
  • Remove legislation under which an MP automatically loses their seat if they are sectioned under the Mental Health Act for more than six months.

The removal of these regulations will not only ensure equality in specific areas of law but will send a strong message that stigma and discrimination on the grounds of mental ill health is not acceptable.

 

The Bill is supported by the government and opposition, as well as organisations such as the Royal College of Psychiatrists, Mind, Rethink Mental Illness and the Law Society, but needs the support of as many MPs as possible when it receives its full Commons debate on 14 September to ensure it progresses.

 

Professor Sue Bailey, President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said: "The College has worked closely on this Bill and we are proud to be involved in the campaign to tackle these archaic and unfair rules. The fact that you can be turned down for jury service, or be removed from your job as an MP or company director because of mental health problems, is discriminatory and outdated and I would encourage everyone to write to their MP to ensure a message is sent that discrimination on the grounds of mental health is not acceptable."

 

The College is working with the voluntary sector and Parliamentarians to ask people to write to their own local MP to encourage them to attend the debate on 14 September and support the Bill.

 

If you are unsure who your MP is, you can enter your postcode on the TheyWorkForYou website to find out. 

 

You can follow the progress of the Bill and the campaign to end mental health discrimination on Twitter by searching for #backthebill.


For further information, please contact:
Kathy Oxtoby or Deborah Hart in the Communications Department.

Telephone: 0203 701 2544 or 0203 701 2538

 

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