Mental health issues raised over ‘stigma’
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.”