Men­tal health is­sues raised over ‘stigma’

The Church of England - - NEWS -

A move to lift re­stric­tions that can pre­vent peo­ple with men­tal health con­di­tions serv­ing as MPs, ju­rors or com­pany direc­tors has been wel­comed by the Bishop of Ex­eter.

Bishop Michael Lan­gr­ish said one of the bar­ri­ers to men­tal and spir­i­tual health was the “stigma” peo­ple could face for the rest of their lives fol­low­ing ill­ness.

In a de­bate on back­bench leg­is­la­tion, the Men­tal Health (Dis­crim­i­na­tion) (No2) Bill, Bishop Lan­gr­ish said: “That is par­tic­u­larly true for those who have been sec­tioned, and that is fur­ther re­in­forced when they are barred from par­tic­i­pat­ing with their fel­low ci­ti­zens in cer­tain ar­eas of our com­mon life.

“The rea­son for such bar­ring seems to be pred­i­cated on the view that re­cov­ery from men­tal ill­health is not pos­si­ble; but it most cer­tainly is.

“I could cite the case of a very good priest in my dio­cese who was once sec­tioned, but who is now fully re­cov­ered with a most ef­fec­tive min­istry - per­haps even more so than it might have been, given his em­pa­thy for oth­ers go­ing through a sim­i­lar ex­pe­ri­ence which he can of­fer as a re­sult.

“I think, too, of a so­lic­i­tor, also sec­tioned, af­ter a se­vere bout of post­na­tal de­pres­sion, who is now de­barred from jury ser­vice un­der cur­rent reg­u­la­tions but who is, iron­i­cally, giv­ing ex­cel­lent le­gal ad­vice to oth­ers for whom no such bar ex­ists.

“From my ex­pe­ri­ence, I sug­gest that some­times peo­ple find them­selves sec­tioned largely be­cause med­i­cal in­ter­ven­tion to deal with their men­tal health prob­lems has not been made avail­able at a much ear­lier stage. Had it been, the whole of the rest of their lives may well have been dif­fer­ent.”

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