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Knowledge and Uptake of Voting Rights By Adults With Mental Illness Living in Supported Accommodation in Westminster (London) During the 2015 Uk General Election

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  23 March 2020

J. Townell*
Affiliation:
Central & North West London NHS Foundation Trust, General Adult Psychiatry, London, United Kingdom
T. MacLaren
Affiliation:
Central & North West London NHS Foundation Trust, General Adult and Old Age Psychiatry, London, United Kingdom
V. Argent
Affiliation:
Central & North West London NHS Foundation Trust, General Adult Psychiatry, London, United Kingdom
L. de Ridder
Affiliation:
Central & North West London NHS Foundation Trust, Child Psychiatry, London, United Kingdom
S. Shanmugham
Affiliation:
Central & North West London NHS Foundation Trust, General Adult Psychiatry, London, United Kingdom
A. Venkataraman
Affiliation:
Central & North West London NHS Foundation Trust, General Adult Psychiatry, London, United Kingdom
M. Clarke
Affiliation:
Central & North West London NHS Foundation Trust, General Adult Psychiatry, London, United Kingdom
M. Khwaja
Affiliation:
Central & North West London NHS Foundation Trust, General Adult Psychiatry, London, United Kingdom
*
*Corresponding author.
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Abstract

Introduction

Voting is an essential human right. Being able to vote and participate in elections is an important component of social inclusion; empowering people with mental illness to have a political voice and in turn reducing stigma. Previous research indicates that patients with mental illness are less likely to vote compared to the general population.

Objective

This study explores knowledge and uptake of the voting rights of adults living in mental health supported accommodation in Westminster (London) in the 2015 UK general election.

Aims

Understand patients’ awareness of their eligibility to register and cast their vote. Identify patients’ interest in engaging in the voting process and strategies to overcome potential obstacles.

Methods

A staff-assisted survey was undertaken in all mental health supported accommodation across Westminster prior to the general election in May 2015.

Results

A total of 142 surveys were returned. Nine out of 10 surveyed believed they were eligible to vote; over half wanted to exercise their right to vote & if registered, a third felt they required assistance to vote.

Conclusions

The majority of community patients were positively aware of the impending general election and their own eligibility to vote. Only half wanted to exercise their right to vote, which is lower than the general population. As a third of the patients requested assistance for voting, this shows us that there are potential barriers impacting on their ability to exercise their right to vote. Staffs have an important role in promoting patient's right to vote by providing assistance with both the registering and voting process.

Disclosure of interest

The authors have not supplied their declaration of competing interest.

Type
EV664
Copyright
Copyright © European Psychiatric Association 2016

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