Mental health sufferers 'need Europe-wide protection'

Peers have called on the European Union (EU) to do more to help those suffering from mental health problems.

The House of Lords' EU committee has published a report claiming that the EU has a role to play in ensuring that the one in four adults who suffer from mental health problems in Europe do not fall victim to social exclusion.

Establishing a set of principles for the employment of those with mental health issues could be one way of improving the situation across Europe, the report recommends.

Meanwhile in Britain workers with mental health problems could be protected by incorporating their rights into recently introduced discrimination legislation.

"People suffering from conditions as diverse as depression or anxiety right through to schizophrenia must be able to seek help without fear of discrimination or social stigma," Baroness Thomas of Walliswood commented.

"It is vital that in the UK mental health problems are recognised as coming within the scope of anti-discrimination legislation, so that people do not lose their jobs or become excluded from services when seeking help for their condition," she continued.

"This is crucial for preventing social exclusion."

The EU published a green paper in 2005 acknowledging that, with 58,000 Europeans committing suicide every year, more must be done to protect sufferers from falling out of society.

Mental health problems are estimated to cost more than £70 billion in the UK alone.

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