Home > Discrimination Issues > Combating Mental Illness Discrimination

Combating Mental Illness Discrimination

By: Garry Crystal - Updated: 15 Aug 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
Mental Illness Mental Health

Around 25% of Britain’s population will be affected by mental illness at some point during their lives. In the UK there are laws laid out to protect against mental health discrimination.

The Stigma of Mental Illness

Although there are laws in place that prohibit mental illness discrimination this type of prejudice still regularly occurs. Nine out of ten people who have been affected by mental illness claim they have encountered discrimination. A recent survey by the mental health charity Rethink found that family and employers were the least accepting groups. An astounding 92% of the public think that having a mental illness would damage a person’s career chances. Mental illness discrimination is a major problem that stops sufferers from applying for jobs or even leaving the home.

The Public’s Perception of Mental Illness

Films dealing with mental illness have been cited as having a negative effect on the public’s perception of mental illness sufferers. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest has been named as the most influential when it comes to people’s perceptions of those with mental problems. Certain films have tried to put across a positive message such as A Beautiful Mind, Girl Interrupted and more recently The Soloist. Films are seen as reinforcing the stereotypes of those suffering mental health problems. This type of prejudice adds to the stigma attached to those with mental health problems.

The Law and Mental Illness Discrimination

The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 does cover mental illness but there are certain stipulations. Legal protection will apply when the mental illness counts as a disability. The stipulations for this are:

  • The illness has lasted for 12 months or more
  • The illness is likely to last 12 months or be recurring
  • Past illnesses will still come under the discrimination act if they meet the 12 month rule
  • Previous problems will also count if they have or still have an adverse effect on daily activities
  • Adverse effects can include problems with memory, concentration, speech etc

Employers and Mental Illness Discrimination

An employer would not be able to discriminate against those who have suffered from mental health problems under the Disability Discrimination Act. Employees are not legally required to inform employers of their health history but if asked by an employer it would be unwise to lie. An employee who has been untruthful about their health problems can be dismissed under a cause of gross misconduct. Employers who are classed as having this type of disability cannot be treated unfairly unless there is a justifiable reason.

Services Discrimination and Mental Illness

The Insurance industry has been named as one sector where discrimination against those with mental illness still occurs. The Disability Discrimination Act is supposed to prevent people with mental illnesses from being treated unfairly when it comes to services, goods and facilities. For example, insurers cannot apply higher premiums to those with mental health problems unless it is justifiable. A complaint should be made to the Financial Ombudsman if higher premiums or outright refusal of services has taken place.

Combating Mental Illness Discrimination

There are many charities and mental health groups which are helping to raise people’s awareness of mental health issues. Organisations such as Rethink and Mind are two of the major charities that exist in the UK. Time to Change is another mental health programme with the main objective of ending mental illness discrimination. Changing the public’s attitudes towards those with mental health problems is another of the main objectives of the Time to Change programme. This organisation also hopes to decrease mental illness discrimination in the UK by 5% by the year 2012.

Mental illness discrimination is seen as one of the most common discrimination types in the UK. The stigma associated with mental illness can ruin people’s lives and can add to the pressures felt by mental illness sufferers. This type of discrimination is an ongoing problem. Educating the public and eradicating the stigma are two ways to combat mental illness discrimination. Discrimination should never be tolerated and those who do practise discrimination can face serious legal consequences.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Why not be the first to leave a comment for discussion, ask for advice or share your story...

If you'd like to ask a question one of our experts (workload permitting) or a helpful reader hopefully can help you... We also love comments and interesting stories

Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Topics
Latest Comments
  • Rar
    Re: The Police and Your Civil Rights
    My friends son has recently had an allegation of sexual assault against him and because she has a child at home she has been…
    16 October 2017
  • CivilRightsMovement
    Re: The Police and Your Civil Rights
    Ellen - Your Question:My ex's wife has been receiving messages about my ex and me via social media. They have gone to the…
    16 October 2017
  • Baby
    Re: Anti Social Behaviour Orders, ASBOs: Your Rights
    My son has been imprisoned recently aged 20, I have 2 other sons 23 and 6. The council have called me in…
    13 October 2017
  • Ellen
    Re: The Police and Your Civil Rights
    My ex's wife has been receiving messages about my ex and me via social media. They have gone to the police and they said they…
    13 October 2017
  • Whitee
    Re: Consequences for Refusing a Full Airport Body Scan
    Went through one At EMA about 2.5 years ago, flew twice in 6 months 1st time none then 2nd time was…
    12 October 2017
  • CivilRightsMovement
    Re: Challenging the Police
    Dabby - Your Question:Arrested then no further action taken, had to inform my employer and I willingly signed for them to access my police…
    10 October 2017
  • CivilRightsMovement
    Re: Sexual Harassment and Your Rights
    UmmN - Your Question:Why must I report the incident within 3 months? Although my last incident from my abuser is just…
    10 October 2017
  • Dabby
    Re: Challenging the Police
    Arrested then no further action taken, had to inform my employer and I willingly signed for them to access my police records. Subsequently…
    9 October 2017
  • UmmN
    Re: Sexual Harassment and Your Rights
    Why must I report the incident within 3 months? Although my last incident from my abuser is just yesterday and have had to…
    7 October 2017
  • CivilRightsMovement
    Re: The Rights of a Victim of Crime
    Claim - Your Question:I was awarded £300 compensation after a burglary back in 2014, the offender was under the age 18 so his…
    4 October 2017
Further Reading...
Our Most Popular...
Add to my Yahoo!
Add to Google
Stumble this
Add to Twitter
Add To Facebook
RSS feed
You should seek independent professional advice before acting upon any information on the CivilRightsMovement website. Please read our Disclaimer.