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Have your say in the General Election on 8 June

26 April 2017

CNWL and the Royal College of Psychiatrists are launching a campaign to encourage mental health patients and service users to register to vote and get their voice heard in the forthcoming General Election  (8 June 2017).

This follows research which found that in the 2010 election, mental health patients were half as likely to be registered to vote as the general population.  

Mental health patients, including those, detained under the Mental Health Act, have the same right to vote as the general population. However in practice, they remain one of the most disenfranchised groups. A lack of information and understanding knowledge of their eligibility to vote or of the registration process lead to voting turnout being as low as 14% in 2010- a quarter of the turnout of the general population.

A film to increase awareness of the voting rights of mental health patients has been launched by CNWL Consultant Psychiatrists, Maria Clarke and Masum Khwaja. The film features the viewpoints of existing patients and staff, highlighting the need for better advice and support about who can and cannot vote.

Maria Clarke, said: “It’s important that mental health patients have a voice and that politicians understand and support issues relevant to those with mental health difficulties.

"The right to vote is a powerful symbol of inclusion in society, promotes equality and gives people a political voice."

Masum Khwaja added “The aim of this project is to ensure patients are aware of their voting rights and for staff to support those patients who are eligible to vote and who want to use their vote.”

Did you know?

• The vast majority of patients in the community can vote. 
• Voluntary patients in mental health hospitals can vote. 
• Patients under civil sections, such as section 2 and 3 of the Mental Health Act (MHA), can vote. 
• Patients on a Community Treatment Order (CTO) can vote. Patients who lack capacity can vote. 
• Patients who are homeless, of no fixed abode or in B&B accommodation can vote. 
• Prisoners remanded to hospital under the Mental Health Act (MHA) on Sections 35, 36 or 48 can vote.

Who cannot vote?

Patients detained after having been convicted of committing a criminal offence and been ordered to hospital by the Courts cannot vote.

How do I register to vote?

To vote you must be on the electoral register. You can register to vote online or by post at visit the Government website to find out how

Claire Murdoch, CNWL Chief Executive, said: “This is all about civil rights for all citizens; something I’m passionate about and why this is a very important initiative.”

You can view the full film below: