Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Listen without prejudice

People with mental health problems deal with bigotry daily. What training is being offered to public sector workers to address this?

At any one time, one in six of us will have a mental health problem. The majority of us will surely have had some contact with someone who has personal experience of mental ill health. Yet stigma and discrimination are widespread and stop many people from admitting to mental health problems and doing things that the rest of us take for granted: applying for jobs; going out and meeting new friends; going to clubs and the shops; and even using public services like buses and libraries.

Every year the Department of Health carries out a public attitudes survey to gauge beliefs and attitudes towards people with mental illness. The 2008 survey found that one in eight people would not want to live next door to someone with a mental health problem, while a third thought those with mental health problems should not have the same rights to a job as everyone else.

The new statutory disability equalities duty (part of the Disability Discrimination Act) and the government-led social inclusion agenda are spurring public services to ensure people with mental health problems have equal access to mainstream services, from housing and transport through to education, arts, health and sport.


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