Three laws that discriminate against people with mental health conditions have been abolished thanks to an Act of Parliament.
The Mental Health (Discrimination) Bill 2013 has now received Royal Assent and become an Act – meaning it is enshrined in law.
There are three provisions of the Act. One overturns a section of the Mental Health Act 1983 under which an MP automatically loses their seat if they are sectioned under the Mental Health Act for more than six months. A second removes the blanket ban on people receiving treatment for their mental health from serving on a jury and removes mention of ‘mentally disordered persons’ from the Juries Act 1974. The final one eliminates a provision that allows a director of a public or private company to be removed from their position ‘by reason of their mental health’.
Lord Dennis Stevenson of Coddenham and Conservative MP for Croydon Central, Gavin Barwell, have worked together to ensure the Bill, which was first introduced in 2011, passed safely through both Houses of Parliament.
Paul Farmer, chief executive of Mind, welcomed the Act. He said: “This is a momentous occasion for anyone affected by mental health problems and a watershed moment for attitudes to mental health. Parliament has not just repealed antiquated rules that have no place in our society; it has sent a clear message to the wider public that discrimination on mental health grounds will no longer be tolerated.
“We are delighted with this outcome, which comes as a result of years of tireless campaigning by Mind, our supporters, and other mental health organisations. We are a step closer today to achieving true equality for the one in four of us who has a mental health problem.”