Nick Clegg says: Employers must be equally supportive of workers with mental and physical health problems

I wrote the other day of my annoyance at the dreadfully stigmatising headlines about mental health in the wake of the Germanwings plane crash.

It’s good to see that Nick Clegg has given quite a detailed interview reported on the Huffington Post while on the battle bus about this issue in which he said that there shouldn’t be a blanket ban of people with mental ill health doing any job. Employers had to look at people’s individual circumstances and be as accepting of people with mental ill health as with physical.

I think it’s very important that we don’t, however understandable in this context, allow what is said about one individual to shape or colour the way in which we regard people who go through episodes of mental health problems.

It’s very important that employers in all walks of life are as accepting of people who are recovering from mental health problems just as much as they would be people who recover from physical health problems.

He warned of the dangers of shutting people with mental ill health out of work:

That’s been one of the great problems, the stigma around mental health, which is because people are either frightened or embarrassed about mental health problems they tend to keep their distance from people who have had mental health problems, when it happens to so many individuals.

We certainly don’t want to see people with mental health problems deliberately or otherwise shut out of work. That would be consigning a lot of people to a cycle of despair, which would be wholly unfair and wholly unjust.



* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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  • I agree we need to be supportive of workers with mental and physical health problems. However, there are some medical problems that should automatically rule you out of certain jobs. From my RAF days I can remember that a history of depression would rule you out of being selected for pilot training, as would migraine. People with a history of stomach or duodenal ulcers weren’t allowed to join up – spending weeks living in field conditions doesn’t allow for special diets. I’m sure there are many other examples – would people with a long history of respiratory illness be allowed down the pits? Help all we can, but we have to be realistic.

  • Stephen Campbell 2nd Apr '15 - 4:38pm

    I agree with Mr. Clegg that employers should be doing a lot more to support those with mental illness. I have a vested interest in this as I’ve lived with a mental illness for some time. Luckily, I work for a small business who understands my condition and accommodates me. Most people don’t have that luxury.

    However, I wish Mr. Clegg would say more about the way those with mental health problems who are unable to work have been treated by the DWP. Those without mental illnesses have a hard enough time navigating all the forms, the WCA and traps the DWP sets for them. Apart from people on JSA, those with mental illness on ESA have faced the highest amount of sanctions by Jobcentres (often for the most spurious of reasons). An average of 100 people with mental illness are being sanctioned by the DWP each and every day. This is inhumane and cruel.

    But I’m fully aware that addressing this issue would mean Clegg having to criticise the Tories, which just won’t do now, will it?

  • But is there actually a genuine reason for that restriction – ie does a past history of depression in and of itself mean you aren’t capapble of being a pilot. There is a difference between that and the specifics of someone’s condition and the generality.

    Put another way, the RAF once said that somone with no-legs was unfit to fly….

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