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Mental Illness or disability?

Employment and Discrimination Law

Mental Illness or disability?

Postby Hairyloon » Sat Aug 05, 2017 11:22 pm

Posted here because it is mainly a question of discrimination.

I am looking at a case of a probable pathological hoarder who is potentially facing eviction by the council.
It is clear to me that he needs help rather than hassle, and it seems unlikely that there is any help available, even less likely that there is help of the right type (unless I do it, and I'm unqualified and unpaid).

The Equality Act defines disability as
A person (P) has a disability if—
(a)P has a physical or mental impairment, and
(b)the impairment has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on P's ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.


Is throwing useless stuff away a normal day-to-day activity? A compulsive hoarder clearly has substantial and long term difficulties in doing this, so does this class as a disability?
It is recognised as such by the American Psychiatric Association, but I have not yet found anything similar from the UK.

Assuming for the moment that it is a disability, where does that leave him?
On the one hand, it would seem to be a clear case of disability discrimination if they were to evict him for it, but on the other, the hoarding arguably presents an fire risk so it cannot be simply ignored.

Even if it is not a disability, then is it not a mental illness, and as such the authorities owe a duty of care in respect of that?

The problem is compounded by an apparent antagonism between him and the council: he thinks the officer dealing with it has got personal issues against him. I am not properly positioned to dismiss that as paranoia; I think it plays a part, but on some levels I think he has a point: he is often not easy to deal with and from their point of view he is probably a troublesome tenant.
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Re: Mental Illness or disability?

Postby shootist » Sun Aug 06, 2017 6:59 am

In the end, just about any annoying 'difference' could be constructed as a mental illness, including religion, especially religion.

But, to try and answer the question, I would guess that his 'disability' would need to be dealt with as if he is a danger to others and would need therefore to be sectioned, after which the accumulated crap he has hoarded can be disposed of and he can a) receive treatment and b) be returned under some sort of supervision until his home is once again too full. We might say the same about thieves, anyone who is violent, murderers, unmarried mothers (used to end up in mental institutions at one time), drunks, supporters of the EU. They might all be regarded as mentally deficient. The Soviet Union had a remarkable approach to defining and then treating mental illness, as did Germany before the last war (Godwin's law invoked in order to be fair to the Soviet Union and the EU).
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Re: Mental Illness or disability?

Postby atticus » Sun Aug 06, 2017 8:29 am

Start by examining the grounds the authority has for taking action.
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Re: Mental Illness or disability?

Postby Boo » Sun Aug 06, 2017 9:08 am

Spooky. I was talking with a colleague about a case they have similar to this the other day.

1. How long has this been going on?
2. Have you asked for the LA's hoarding policy?
3. Where is the adult safeguarding team?
4. Does this person have a care coordinator?

Before you go off on a tangent about discrimination - find the answers to those questions first.

It is doubtful this person will be sectioned based on the above alone.
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Re: Mental Illness or disability?

Postby Hairyloon » Sun Aug 06, 2017 10:23 am

shootist wrote:But, to try and answer the question, I would guess that his 'disability' would need to be dealt with as if he is a danger to others and would need therefore to be sectioned...

I think he is a long way from being a danger to anybody. The "fire risk" I mentioned was more relating to escape in event of a fire, though he did make mention that the council officer had said that he had too many books and so they were a fire hazard. :shock:

atticus wrote:Start by examining the grounds the authority has for taking action.

Breach of tenancy: failure to maintain a tidy garden and nuisance to neighbours. The latter I reject: they cannot see the garden unless they go round to look at it.
I should add that they are not yet taking action, merely muttering about threatening to.

Boo wrote:Spooky. I was talking with a colleague about a case they have similar to this the other day.

1. How long has this been going on?
2. Have you asked for the LA's hoarding policy?
3. Where is the adult safeguarding team?
4. Does this person have a care coordinator?

The hoarding has been going on more or less for ever to a greater or lesser extent, but I think it has never been enough of a problem that he's recognised it as a problem and sought help for it.
I don't think that it is really very much of a real problem, but it has strayed across the line a little. I am enough of a hoarder myself to see exactly where he is going with it and there is clear method in the madness.
As for the LA, I have not yet had a chance to make enquiries, nor know what enquiries to make.

Before you go off on a tangent about discrimination - find the answers to those questions first.

My thinking that in preparing to do battle, it is worth first finding what kind of artillery there is available. The better plan is a sensible arrangement and not a battle, but my past experience with councils does not fill me with confidence on that count...
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Re: Mental Illness or disability?

Postby Boo » Sun Aug 06, 2017 11:03 am

This individual needs assistance with managing their tenancy - you'd do better fighting battles with those who hold the purse strings to care packages - this will depend on income. They need help with sustaining their tenancy using a multi-agency approach, rather than this going down the homeless route after an eviction.

If you are advocating for them, you need to act quickly.
Start with the GP, local MH services, Housing Officer, add to the mix; adult services and the adult safeguarding team.
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Re: Mental Illness or disability?

Postby atticus » Sun Aug 06, 2017 2:12 pm

What do they say is the nature of the nuisance that you blithely reject?
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Re: Mental Illness or disability?

Postby dls » Sun Aug 06, 2017 3:09 pm

This individual needs assistance with managing their tenancy


Yes, yes yes.An hour or two helping sort the mess would be far more effective than thirty hours of you looking for a fight he could very easily lose.
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Re: Mental Illness or disability?

Postby Hairyloon » Sun Aug 06, 2017 7:19 pm

atticus wrote:What do they say is the nature of the nuisance that you blithely reject?

As far as I can tell, that the garden is a mess.
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Re: Mental Illness or disability?

Postby Hairyloon » Sun Aug 06, 2017 7:26 pm

dls wrote:An hour or two helping sort the mess would be far more effective than thirty hours of you looking for a fight he could very easily lose.

I don't know that the fight hasn't already started. I'm fairly sure I won't need to spend time looking for it.
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