More threads by David Baxter PhD

David Baxter PhD

Late Founder
Mental health discrimination 'has no place in civilised society'
March 20, 2006
by 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.


Mental health discrimination - just like racism - has "no place in a civilised society

Anyone who has been afflicted with any form of psychiatric, emotional or neurological disorder that makes them behave differently from the general population will agree.? Those of us working to increase awareness of these disorders and to provide support for those afflicted, will agree.

But people are people, and haven't we seen historical examples of the masses turning against those who are different from the mass?

Whether the difference is based on race, religion, social or economic status, political belief, their choice of lifestyle....people in the minority seem to have an uphill struggle against the masses.

The age of enlightenment with with regards to mental health has been with us since the middle of the twentieth century, has it not?? ?Is this not when the medical specialty of Psychiatry came into its own and people in "insane asylums" first began receiving humane treatment?

The stigma of mental illness is still? a relatively new phenomenon in society, and education at the grass roots is still needed.

Until recently people with epilepsy, tuberculosis, and leprosy were ostracized from society.? Now these illnesses can be treated but awareness had to be increased for people to become tolerant and understanding.

I feel some progress has been made in improving awareness of many disorders which until recently were talked about in whispers.

Nascar drivers advertise treatment for erectile dysfunction,? depression, and sleep disorders on their cars.? Suppertime TV commercials remind us we are not alone in our depression, anxiety disorders and sleep deprivation.

Have we really made any headway?
TSOW said:
Have we really made any headway?

I don't know.

I think it's more acceptable to take medication and see a counselor, but these things still aren't talked about much more than when I was first deemed "mentally ill" 20 years ago.


Having mental illness is like being 'disabled' or other kinds of physical illness, where it is considered to be one of the 'protected' groups in Human Rights code. Unfortunately, the stigma is very strong in the business world, and many employers somehow, manage to 'work around' it and people with mental illness still get the raw deal, and employers get away with it.

I don't think it's lack of education. It's more of beliefs. No matter how many times people are told that mental illness is like a physical illness, they are stubborn and refuse to change their belief. There's got to be more than just spreading the truth about mental illness. They need to change what they believe.
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