Mental health discrimination ‘has no place in civilised society’

Mental health discrimination \’has no place in civilised society\’

Publisher: Jon Land
Mental health discrimination – just like racism – has “no place in a civilised society”, the Government’s head of mental health is expected to say today.

The national director for mental health, Professor Louis Appleby, will tell an international conference that the stigma of mental illness needs to be wiped out.

He will tell a summit of experts in Manchester that black people who suffer from mental illness can suffer the “double whammy” of racism and mental health discrimination.

“People should not be discriminated against because of the colour of their skin,” he will say.

“Equally, people should not be discriminated against because they have a mental health problem.

“It’s long been recognised that racism is unacceptable, but unthinking discrimination against people with mental health problems still seems to be socially acceptable.

“More than six out of 10 employers, for example, freely admit they would not recruit someone with a mental health problem.

“Even more worrying is that some research indicates that you are more likely to be attacked in the street if you’ve got a severe mental health problem.

“Black people who have experienced mental illness can suffer the double whammy of racism and mental health stigma, neither of which are acceptable.

“This is simply wrong. It is high time that society caught up and realised that it is not OK to be prejudiced against people with mental health problems.

“The stigma of mental illness, like racism, has no place in a civilised society.”

At any one time, one in six people in the UK is estimated to suffer from a mental health problem.

In 2005, 630,000 people in England were recorded as being in contact with mental health services.

More than 1,300 young men in England take their own life each year, with only one in four seeking help from mental health services, making suicide the most common cause of death in men under 35.

Professor Appleby – who was heckled at the start of the mental health charity Mind’s annual conference last week – will add: “Suicide is a needless and avoidable tragedy.

“If we could break down the shame and prejudice surrounding mental illness, we could encourage people to seek help, and save lives.”

The event has been organised by Shift, which is a five-year Government programme aimed at tackling mental health discrimination in England.

Speakers from more than 30 countries are expected to gather to talk about how to stamp out the problem.

SOURCE:- Press Association 2006.

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