March the All Party Group on Mental Health launched an Election Compact on Mental Health,
which Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg all agreed to sign up to. Among the
guests at the event was Ruby Wax, comedian and mental health campaigner (pictured above).
This unprecedented initiative demonstrates a cross-party commitment to challenging
negative attitudes around mental illness and shutting stigmatising language out of
politics and specifically in the forthcoming General Election Campaign.
In 2008 the APPG on Mental Health published the Mental
Health in Parliament report, based on the results of an anonymous survey.
MPs, Peers and staff responded overwhelmingly with the unfortunate view that
openness about mental health in Parliament was potentially damaging to individuals,
leaving them subject to attack from opponents and the media.
As such, a key recommendation of the report was to produce an Election Compact on Mental
Health to agree a protocol that would support anyone in being open about a mental health
problem during the General Election. It is hoped that this non-party political
Compact will send a powerful symbolic message to the public and act as a beacon for good
practice during the election period.
here to see a copy of the Compact and the leaders'
Below is a copy of the press relases I sent out to local press following the launch:
LOCAL MP SPEARHEADS INITIATIVE ON MENTAL HEALTH
Leaders support ban on mental health slurs during election campaign
A radical new initiative designed to
stop politicians using opponents' mental health problems to win political advantage during
the election campaign has won support from Gordon Brown, David Cameron, Nick
Clegg and MPs of all persuasions.
The Election Compact on Mental Health, the first of its kind in the UK, was launched on
Monday, 22nd March at Westminster by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Mental Health
and was the culmination of process initiated by local MP, Lynne Jones and supported
by a coalition made up of key organisations in the mental health sector. The
Speaker, John Bercow, and comedian, Ruby Wax, a long time campaigner on mental health,
were also in attendance, along with representatives from all the political parties.
It is hoped that the Compact will make
inroads towards stamping out mental health discrimination among politicians and
encourage the next generation of MPs to be open about their mental health without fear of
reprisal from opponents and the media.
Under the terms of the Compact, politicians vow::
stigmatise, slur or discriminate against anyone with a mental health problem, even when
- to challenge
negative attitudes towards mental health, including "canteen culture harassment"
where innocent banter can cause offence
not to speculate
about the mental health of any prospective politician
interests of all constituents regardless of their mental health
Lynne Jones, MP for Birmingham Selly Oak and joint chair of the All Party Group,
said: I am delighted that party leaders have signed up to the Election Compact,
which represents an important step in tackling the entrenched stigma associated with
Notes to editors
2. The Compact was drawn up following a recommendation in the 2008
report Mental Health in Parliament,
published by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Mental Health.