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Voting and mental illness: the silent constituency

  • B. D. Kelly (a1)
Abstract

Mental illness has been long associated with denial of certain human rights, social exclusion and political disempowerment. Too often, the effects of adverse social, economic and political circumstances, along with stigma, constitute a form of ‘structural violence’, which impairs access to psychiatric and social services, and amplifies the effects of mental illness in the lives of sufferers and their families. Existing literature indicates that voting rates are low among people with mental illness and, whereas voting preferences in the mentally ill may tend towards the liberal end of the political spectrum, they do not differ dramatically from the overall population. Rates of voting could be improved by mental health service users, service providers, advocacy services and others through (a) improved awareness of voting rights; (b) provision of information, especially to inpatients; (c) assessments of voting capacity, where indicated, using standardised, well-proven tools; and (d) pro-active voter-registration programmes.

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Corresponding author
*Address for correspondence: B. Kelly, Department of Adult Psychiatry, UCD School of Medicine and Medical Science, University College Dublin, Mater Misericordiae University Hospital, 62/63 Eccles Street, Dublin 7, Ireland. (Email: brendankelly35@gmail.com)
References
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Irish Journal of Psychological Medicine
  • ISSN: 0790-9667
  • EISSN: 2051-6967
  • URL: /core/journals/irish-journal-of-psychological-medicine
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