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Disability rights and mental health in the UK: recent developments of the Disability Discrimination Act

  • Liz Sayce and Jed Boardman

The Disability Discrimination Act, passed by Parliament in 1995 and amended in 2001 and 2005, covers people in Britain with physical or mental impairments that have a substantial and long-term adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities. The Act has been important in setting a framework for good practice and it can stimulate more systemic change through formal investigations of organisations or whole sectors, and through the Disability Equality Duty, in force since December 2006. The Disability Discrimination Act has implications for people working in mental health services when they are considering employment and educational opportunities for service users, and when they are considering how to redress systemic disadvantage, including inequalities in physical health.

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BJPsych Advances
  • ISSN: 1355-5146
  • EISSN: 1472-1481
  • URL: /core/journals/bjpsych-advances
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Disability rights and mental health in the UK: recent developments of the Disability Discrimination Act

  • Liz Sayce and Jed Boardman
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DR Nazar Afif Mansour, SPR/ LAT
03 September 2008

I am a working doctor with a physical disability. Disability is a spectrum as far as both duration and severity are concerned. Disabled people pass through different stages to adapt to changes in life and the work environment. People may have severe levels of physical disability but still be able torun their daily functions as normal.

Disabled people have to work harder toovercome the hindrances they face to prove that they can do the required jobs. Unfortunately sometimes this is not recognised as an achievement by many institutions or even valued at an individual level.

Both the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 and the Ammendment in 2005have made clear cut legal changes to ensure that disabled people are treatedin a fair way; but this may not change attitudes towards disability.

For example in 2007 MTAS recruitment did follow the guaranteed interview scheme for disabled doctors to have access to interview, but at the same time the lack of transparency and inadequate feedback provided no reassurances about the fairness of the scoring system. A defensive approach in dealing with the employment of disabled people can create a tense environment in all stages of employment including during job interviews. Changes of attitude and appropriate evaluation are necessary tosecure the rights of disabled people.
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