(This post is by Will Murcott Lecturer at BCU) I was very pleased to see the issue of mental health and discrimination being raised in parliament the other week, and at the bravery of four ministers who stood up and spoke openly about their experiences of obsessive compulsive disorder, depression and postnatal depression. It’s not often I’m made to sit up and take notice when listening to recaps of parliamentary sessions, but this was something unique and special.
For those members of parliament to speak about their illnesses when their positions ultimately depend on the votes they receive from the general public was exceptionally brave.
The excellent article by Clare Allen http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2012/jul/03/mental-health-stigma-mps-courage?INTCMP=SRCH outlines some of the discrimination from current legislation faced by members of the public, and also for MPs, an area I was not familiar with. In particular the rule where an MP automatically loses their seat if they are detained for more than 6 months under the Mental Health Act 1983.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-18444516 has a video extract of Kevin Jones MP, Charles Walker MP and Sarah Wollaston MP speaking in Parliament. Charles Walker’s very personal, eloquent and funny speech is here in full http://www.charleswalker.org/14062012_mental_health .
A private members bill introduced by Gavin Barwell MP proposes to change existing legislation which discriminates against those with mental health difficulties. This will hopefully continue to place much needed pressure for the continual revision and open debate of legislation in this sensitive area.