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Make Disability Discrimination (inc mental & physical health) a Police issue like Racism

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Whether they are treating someone differently due to their mental health or physical health, disability discrimination is illegal BUT at the moment you have to prove it and then take it to a tribunal... AT YOUR COST AND PERIL!  I would like for disability discrimination, including mental health as per current law, to be a criminal offence and handled like Racism. 

My name is Matt. I'm 26 and live on the edge of West London. In 2015, I tried to kill myself. I handed in my sick note to my boss who said "no one else has a problem". He'd seen my NHS reports and my Occupational Health reports. It is discrimination and it is illegal. He would never of said it if it was my race or religon yet because it is my health; I'm the one off work and without a salary. The 21st Century UK does not accept homophobia or racism so why we do accept discrimination due to health or disability?

You can read more of my experience on my blog and my Facebook page. It was featured in The Guardian last month.

No boss or HR team would dare make a racist comment, so why can they use and abuse us a 'Human Resource'?

I am asking that the Equality Act, which makes disability discrimination illegal, be amended so it is handled by the Police in a similar to Racism. Managers and HR employees who discriminate (or make discriminatory comments) against people because of their health would be arrested and charged just as if they made a racist or homophobic comment.

ACAS currently offer free legal advice and try to offer a reconciliation service however without the legal ramifications of Police involvement they have no way to deter it happening again. Due to the recession, businesses big and small are trying to save money and increase profitability. This means staff working more hours with insufficient support, training and breaks and as business recovers... people burn out. 

By having Police treat disability discrimination in a way similar to Racism:

It would be BETTER for the NHS. Those companies abusing/misusing their staff would be held liable. If you suffer an injury in a car crash, the injured party pays the bill. So shouldn't those guilty of causing or exacerbating foot some of the NHS and welfare bill?
It would be BETTER for victims of health and disability discrimination. We would get the justice we deserve.
It would be BETTER for the economy and business. 9.9 million working days (Health and Safety Executive) are lost to stress and mental health in the UK every year.
It would be BETTER for those in need. At the moment the UK is facing a mental health crisis as we've seen in the recent BBC #InTheMind season. The biggest killer of men aged 50 (ONS) is not cancer, war or drugs: it is suicide. We need to encourage people to get the help they need - not tell them to shut up, fill in a form and face a legal bill because of their health.

Charities such as MIND already offer workplace training on mental health and the Equality Act to help employers and employees "promote mental wellbeing in your organisation and at home, helping to reduce absenteeism in the workplace and encouraging a positive, healthy and productive workplace culture". At the moment, why should companies have this training if there is only a mild threat from an expensive tribunal system?

Good HR teams and Good companies understand that by looking after their staff they get the most from them. By making this a Police matter there would be a serious deterrent to companies, organisations and individuals behaving this way.

Everyone has mental and physical health. This adjustment is the next step in making a key difference to YOU; whether you have a condition today or if could help prevent one.

There is no shame in reporting racism and by taking disability discrimination (mental health and physical health) as seriously can we begin to fight stigma, reach real justice and help tackle the suicide crisis in the UK.

Please help.


You can read more about the current process and laws regarding disability discrimination here on the MIND website. Matt Streuli is a media volunteer, mental health advocate and blogger for MIND and Time To Change.



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