Explain how individuals experience discrimination due to misinformation, assumptions and stereotypes about mental ill health
Discrimination against other people is what we use as a way of keeping ourselves safe - from
uncomfortable questions, facing reality, and challenges to ourselves. But it is a belittling and
dangerous technique. [ It marginalises other people and in the end, when we discriminate as a
society, it causes pain, distress, and long-term damage. It also damages us as a society because
it limits our
world and impoverishes our understanding.
People who have experience of mental illness almost always also have experience of
discrimination. They may be denied jobs, accommodation, relationships, social dignity, and of
course adequate services. Their families, and the people who work to try to help them may also
experience discrimination, because it spreads like a sickness.
It is sometimes hard to explain what we mean by discrimination. It is one of those abstract
words which cuts us off from the human impact. But this report starts to give some
illustrations of what it means for people. And more importantly, this report begins to examine
what causes us to discriminate against others. It looks for parallels and differences in other
kinds of discrimination - on the basis of gender, sexuality, age, culture, religion, colour,
victimisation, physical disabilities, and size.
Sometimes people offer very simplistic solutions to the problem of discrimination. ‘Just change
attitudes’. ‘Tighten up the law’. ‘Get people to stand up for themselves’. For every complex
problem there is a simple solution. And it is wrong. Complex problems usually mean complex
solutions. Discrimination is not a ‘tame’ problem. It is a ‘wicked’ one. So the solution involves
a combination of approaches, as this report explains. We also need to be aware that the
problem of discrimination will itself change as we try to change it and so it may need to be
solved time and again.
The Mental Health Commission is committed to getting rid of discrimination against people
with mental illness. It knows that there is no quick solution, because it involves refusing, as a
society, to accept any longer the myths about mental illness. ]
There are no new answers.