Disability Discrimination Act ‘a good thing but needs changes’

The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 is not perfect but it has
improved prospects for people with mental health problems,
delegates at the Mind conference were told.

Rachel Perkins, consultant clinical psychologist and clinical
director of adult mental health at South West London and St
George’s Mental Health NHS Trust, said the DDA had made employers

In some cases the threat of court action was more powerful than the
actual process.

“The DDA is a good thing,” she said. “It needs lots of changes but
we’re in a better position now than before it existed.”

But Perkins, who is also a service user, added that as regards
discrimination in employment, the DDA did not completely protect
people and “if they want to get rid of you, then the bottom line is
they can”.

Liz Sayce, director of policy at the Disability Rights Commission,
said the DDA was the UK’s only law outlawing discrimination on
psychiatric grounds.

She said as many as 23 per cent of employment cases being taken
under the DDA involved people with mental health problems.

The presence of the DDA had also helped to raise awareness, she
said. Disability awareness training for managers doubled between
1995 and 2002 and employment of disabled people rose from 43 per
cent to 49 per cent in the same period.

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