Date Published: 10 October 2006

Mental Health Charity welcomes Government's anti-stigma plans, but calls for greater investment

A national mental health charity today welcomed the Government’s new initiative ‘Action on Stigma’, a scheme designed to promote mental well-being and tackle discrimination amongst employers. However, the Mental Health Foundation said that while it welcomes the proposal, it is crucial that it be followed up with real action and adequate resource.

Dr. Andrew McCulloch, Chief Executive of the Mental Health Foundation said:

It is good to see acknowledgement from Government about the serious issue of employer discrimination against people with mental health problems. Recent research shows that fewer than 40% of employers said they would consider hiring someone with a mental health problem and many people with mental health problems have experienced a huge amount of stigma and discrimination within the workplace. This is a fundamental issue about the right to a decent quality of life. The majority of people with experience of mental health problems want to work and are denied from doing so on the grounds of their disability.

_ The Disability Discrimination Act makes it encumbent on employers not to discriminate against people with disabilities and to allow for flexible working arrangements, but it is important any action taken by employers is not simply tokenistic box ticking. They will need appropriate support and training. If we are to achieve a real change in attitude towards people with mental health problems, Government will need to substantially increase the amount it is willing to invest in any initiative designed to tackle stigma and discrimination. To date there has been minimal investment in this area.

_ If Government is sincere about its commitment to enabling people with mental health problems enter and retain employment, it is imperative that reforms to incapacity benefit take into account the particular issues and challenges people with mental health problems face. This includes allowing for non-punitive and flexible return to work schemes and person centred employment support.

 

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