A very personal election

This morning’s news that 28,500 Section 136 orders were issued last year where people are taken into care by the police on the basis of mental distress was pretty politically motivating. Apart from a timely reminder that a fair chunk of people will be spending this election period in confinement, it’s a nudge in the direction of political responsibility.
One of the unsavoury aspects of a general election campaign is the degree to which ‘vulnerable’ groups are disenfranchised. This includes anyone on the edges, whether geographically, socially or psychically speaking.
 
In the mental health world there’s a lot of debate about whether to bring politics into the consulting room. From the introduction of mental health services into job centres to the role of mental health workers in helping their clients navigate Universal Credit, I think we can safely say that the political neutrality ship has sailed.
 
The deadline to register to vote is Tuesday 26th November and a postal vote 5pm TODAY. There are two websites that you can use to make sure that you and the people around you are informed about how to get voting.
 
The Mental Health Vote 2019 campaign gives electoral advice for people living with mental distress. The website walks you through your rights, how to vote if you are sectioned, how to register and get a proxy vote.
 
Unfortunately it might need clarifying that you can vote if you:
* Are receiving community treatment
* Are a voluntary inpatient
* Are under a civil section
* Are homeless/have no fixed abode/are in B&B accommodation
 
If you have been in hospital long enough to be considered a resident, you can use the hospital address to register to vote. If you are a short-term patient with stable accommodation you can register to vote using your usual address.
 
If you are a short-term patient with no address outside of hospital you may need to make a ‘declaration of local connection’. This will also be the case for anyone who has no fixed abode or lives in B&B accommodation. More information on registering to vote whilst homeless can be found here.
 
The brilliant Psychologists for Social Change have done the dog work and set up a webpage of resources. Click here  to access their resources page. PCSR is running a day of action on Friday 22nd November calling upon you to get registered and use our existing networks.
 
1. Get informed Make sure you and the people in your network understand the processes for voting – how to register, how to do a postal vote, who the local candidates are. Election candidates hold local events called hustings where people can question them in the run up to elections – think about attending and invite one person or more who has never been to one before.
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2. Get people registered Get the message out among your networks about making sure people are registered to vote. Talk to your colleagues, friends or neighbours, post on social media. The deadline is 26 November. People can check if they are registered here.
 
3. Buddy a non-voter If you know someone who is unsure about voting, talk to them about it. If you manage to convince them, ask them to find another person to sign up.
 
4. Get people voting In the run up to election day and on the day itself, remind people to vote.
 
5. ​​If you work in public services, find out what is in place to support service users to get registered. Use some of these resources to initiate or advertise registration.
 
Get clicking.

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