Earlier this year the Mental Health (Discrimination) Bill was introduced to the House of Lords with the aim of reducing the stigma and negative perceptions associated with mental illness by repealing certain pieces of legislation that are considered to prevent people with mental health problems from participating fully in society. Currently, these legislative provisions can prevent people with mental health conditions from becoming:
- Members of Parliament (section 141 of the Mental Health Act 1983 calls for a Member of the House of Commons, Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly or Northern Ireland Assembly to automatically lose their seat if they are sectioned under the Act for more than six months);
- school governors (the School Governance (Constitution) (England) Regulations 2007 prevent individuals who have been detained under the Mental Health Act 1983 from being school governors);
- jurors (the Juries Act 1974 enforces a blanket ban on ’mentally disordered persons’ undertaking jury service);
- company directors (the Companies (Model Articles) Regulations 2008 states that a person might cease to be a director of a public or private company ’by reason of their mental health’).
The Bill was presented to Parliament through the Ballot Bill procedure and had its second reading on 14 September 2012. The Bill passed without a division and will now be considered by a Public Bill Committee. Each clause and any proposed amendments may be debated.
Making these changes to legislation is an important step towards reducing discrimination experienced by people suffering from mental health problems, which can make their difficulties worse and make it much harder to recover.
Are you finding it hard supporting a member of your workforce who’s struggling with mental health issues? Then call the Health for Work Adviceline for free on 0800 0 77 88 44.