Time to Change applauds MPs for voting through legislation to scrap outdated laws that discriminate against people with mental health problems.

MPs voted today in favour of the Mental Health (Discrimination) Bill, which will now go through to the Committee stage. If eventually passed, it will put an end to archaic laws which interfere with the rights of people with mental health problems from participating in jury service and becoming or remaining a company director. It will also change a law that currently stipulates that MPs themselves will lose their seats if sectioned under the Mental Health Act, regardless of recovery.

Sue Baker, Director of Time to Change, England’s biggest mental health anti-stigma programme, run by the charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness, said: "This is another historic step towards ending the widespread discrimination that people with mental health problems face, and will help us to overturn generations of stigma and prejudice.  There is no reason why people with mental health problems should not be fit to hold public office, and the fact that this is finally being recognised by Parliament sends a very positive message to the millions of people affected by mental health problems that they have just as great a contribution to make to society as anyone else.

“We recently saw four MPs speak out in Parliament about their experiences of mental health problems, and in Norway we have seen a Prime Minister remain in office while dealing with depression  Legislation which prevents those of us who have a mental health problem from fulfilling our potential is not only a great waste of talent, but also fuels stigma and discrimination."

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For more information please email Hayley Richardson, Time to Change Senior Media Officer, or call 0208 2152 358/ 07789 721 966


Notes to Editors

Time to Change
Time to Change is England's most ambitious programme to end the stigma and discrimination faced by people with mental health problems.  The programme is run by the charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness, and funded by the Department of Health and Comic Relief. 

For more information go to www.time-to-change.org.uk

Department of Health
On 2 February 2011 the Department of Health launched No health without mental health, a cross-government mental health outcomes strategy for people of all ages which has the twin aims of keeping people well and improving their mental health and, when people are not well, improving their outcomes through high-quality services.

The strategy is based on six shared objectives, developed with partners from across the mental health sector, and focuses on ‘Recovery’ and the reduction of stigma and discrimination as overarching themes. To help deliver the objective to reduce the stigma faced by people with mental health problems, in 2011 the Department agreed to support Time to Change, the anti-stigma campaign run by the charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness. The Department of Health is providing the campaign with up to £16 million of funding together with a further £4 million from Comic Relief. This funding will help Time to Change continue their work until March 2015.

Comic Relief
Comic Relief is committed to supporting people living with mental health problems. The projects Comic Relief funds ensure people with mental health problems get their voices heard in the decisions that affect their lives and get the help they need to recover. Comic Relief also helps people to promote their rights and reduce the stigma and discrimination they face so that they feel more included in society.  The £4 million grant to Time to Change is the second time the charity has awarded Time to Change its largest UK grant and is part of Comic Relief's long standing commitment to this issue. For more information go to www.comicrelief.com