With one year until the next European elections, Mental Health Europe (MHE) has said that EU states must reform outdated laws which strip those with psychosocial disabilities from their right to have their voices heard.
Mental Health Europe reports that in most EU countries, the current laws mean that hundreds of thousands of citizens experiencing mental health problems could be denied their right to vote in the 2019 European elections, despite it being protected under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD).
New research from MHE published earlier this year in the ‘Mapping and Understanding Exclusion in Europe’ report found that people in Europe with mental health problems live under full guardianship, a form of substitute decision making where a person can be deprived by law of their right to vote.
The burden of full guardianship
In the report, it was found that the number of people living under full guardianship in Europe could be as high as 500,000 or more.
Three quarters of EU member states have restricted voting for those living under guardianship. In some countries, judges or doctors make the decision as to whether an individual has the legal capacity to make a vote.
This is not the case in other countries as those under guardianship are automatically excluded from the democratic process.
Ensuring equal recognition
Now, with one year to go until the next European election, MHE is urging EU states to follow the UN CRPD and ensure that people with psychosocial disabilities have equal recognition before the law, including being able to make a vote.
Maria Nyman, director of Mental Health Europe, said: “Everyone should have the right to an equal say about how Europe is run. States need to reform outdated laws and support people with psychosocial disabilities to make decisions about their lives, including voting.
“Casting a ballot and having your voice heard is an empowering experience that can really help people to recover from mental ill health.”
Press release: MHE