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Mental health slur ban in run up to general election

New protocol bans politicians from slurring rivals over their mental health

OnMedica Staff

Thursday, 25 March 2010

A new protocol to prevent politicians from using mental health slurs to win political advantage during the election campaign, was launched in Westminster this week.

The protocol, the first of its kind in the UK, was launched after months of lobbying by a coalition made up of mental health charities Rethink, Mind, Stand to Reason, and the Royal College of Psychiatrists. 

Party leaders Gordon Brown, David Cameron, and Nick Clegg have signed up to this best practice "Compact” – an election first which effectively bans politicians from making slurs about opponents' mental health while campaigning. 

Under the terms of the Compact, politicians vow not to stigmatise, slur or discriminate against anyone with a mental health problem, even when out canvassing.

Dinesh Bhugra, President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said: “This election may be a battle – but it should be a battle of ideas, not slurs. Candidates must be able to be open about mental health without it being used against them. Discrimination against people with mental health problems should have no place in society, and certainly not in politics. This Compact is a symbolic step from the political parties, which must be applauded. I hope the Government elected in May continues this by making the fight against discrimination in society a core priority.” 

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