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

Leading mental health organisations welcome MP vote to scrap outdated, discriminatory laws

Embargoed until 14 September 2012

MPs voted today 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Jenkins, CEO of Rethink Mental Illness said: "We are absolutely delighted that MPs have taken action to scrap these outdated, deeply unfair rules.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."

For further information, please contact:
Sarah Nevins
Press & Social Media Officer
Telephone: 020 3701 2543
Claire McLoughlin
Media & Communications Manager 
Telephone: 020 3701 2544
Out of hours contact number: 07860 755896



Leading mental health organisations welcome MP vote to scrap outdated, discriminatory laws


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