campaign against mental health stigma failing, charity report claims
by Mike George
HIGH profile government campaign against mental health stigma is
failing those people it is supposed to help, a new hard-hitting
report criticises the government's mental health anti-stigma campaign,
entitled Shift and launched in 2004, for offering policymakers few
recommendations for action to combat discrimination.
Instead of pumping millions of pounds trying to change society's
negative attitudes towards people with mental health problems, more
effort should be made to ensure that anti-discrimination law actually
protects such people against prejudice, said the report by the Mental
Specifically, the Disability Discrimination Act should be used to
protect those with a mental health diagnosis in the same way it
does those with a physical disability, stated the report, written
by psychiatrist Professor Graham Thornicroft.
"We need to use legal measures, such as the Disability Discrimination
Act, to protect people with mental illness from unfair discrimination,"
said Thornicroft, professor of community psychiatry at the Institute
of Psychiatry, King's College London.
act has been framed primarily in relation to physical disability,
and does little to help people with mental health problems.”
Andrew McCulloch, chief executive of the Mental Health Foundation,
said: “I’m opposed to the concept of stigma because
it is discrimination that affects the lives of people with mental
health problems, not stigma.
is time to stop worrying about people’s attitudes and to start
report - entitled Actions Speak Louder; Tackling discrimination
against people with mental illness - lays out actions that policy-makers
and campaigners, including Shift, which is run by the National Institute
for Mental Health, should make to end discrimination against people
with mental health problems.
Suggestions include employers allowing the mentally ill not to work
if impaired by medication, and providing them with an "external
job coach" for counselling and support.
The report also suggests modifying employment contracts for those
people likely to be unwell for prolonged periods.
National Institute for Mental Health was unable to provide a response
by the time psychminded published this news report.
Speak Louder; Tackling discrimination against people with mental
31: Government to pay service users to talk to journalists on mental
health - scheme bids to promote positive media coverage of stories
relating to schizophrenia, manic depression and personality disorder
25, 2004: Want to reduce mental health stigma? Then let me film
inside psychiatric wards - urges BBC Scotland's health correspondent
21, 2004: Mental health charity banned from unveiling statue of
Winston Churchill in a straitjacket - protest against mental
health stigma was bad taste, Rethink organisation told.
19, 2004: People diagnosed with mental illness to be protected from
discrimination at work
28, 2004: Government launches scheme to tackle mental health stigma
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