We want our leaders to pledge to ensure that by the year 2021, anyone in the UK who has ADHD can have timely access to quality treatment and support.
Achieving equality for people with ADHD in UK will take decades. The first step to achieving it, however, starts with beating the stigma around ADHD, and that’s something that we can begin to do now. #AttentionUK is campaigning for formal recognition from the elected government about the scale of this problem, to be followed by their pledge that by 2022, every person with ADHD in the UK will be able to access the treatment and support that the National Guidelines for this condition recommend, and which commissioners have a legal requirement to follow.
The first step is to raise awareness of ADHD as a legitimate mental health disorder – because the stigma against it is still so entrenched that it’s even being perpetuated by the national campaign to end mental health stigma and the nation’s leading mental health charity. Refusing to recognise ADHD as a mental health disorder, whatever the reasoning behind it (the excuse is generally that ‘more specialised support is available elsewhere’, which isn’t the case for adults, by the way), comes across as an endorsement of the prejudice and stigma that these organisations exist to combat. So far whenever this has been raised with the organisations, whether it be from service users, employees or other service providers, it has been brushed under the carpet.
Our voices are being ignored, and that’s why we need the pressure of the wider general public to help us fight our corner.
There should be an ADHD service in every community, so we should be asking our MPs for an explanation if there isn’t.
Over the last year, we have managed to work with other ADHD groups to campaign successfully for an All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on ADHD, so it is finally getting talked about at a governmental level. However, the new group needs better management and representation from all parties, and then hopefully it may be able to help bring about real change.
Has anyone in government done anything for people with ADHD before?
We would like recognise the efforts of Jeremy Corbyn, Norman Lamb, Annette Brooke, Gregory Campbell, Martin Caton, David Simpson, Dr William McCrea and Margaret Ritchie, who spoke (at least once), proposed a motion (at least once) or voted on a motion (twice) in favour of people with ADHD between January 2004 and April 2017. Thank you.
These were the only MPs who were been recorded saying anything supportive, or voting in favour, of the needs of people with ADHD in the entirety of those 13 years.
Since we launched Attention UK in March 2017, the tide has shown signs of turning.
Recently, Jo Platt has taken on our call for attention and has gotten involved with the new APPG, for which we are deeply grateful.
The #ITakeMyPillsBecause hashtag, started by the wonderful Jessica of @howtoADHD, gained international traction in response to a damaging Netflix production which perpetuated stigma on medicating for ADHD. Jessica was already a great ADHD ambassador long before our campaign was founded, and if you’re not familiar with her already, we’d strongly recommend checking out her YouTube channel (@howtoADHD) for any and all of your ADHD-video related needs!
Additionally, Mr Daniel Johnson MSP has recently spoken out about ADHD stigmatisation in Parliament and on social media. The nature of politics makes it extremely unusual for any politician to share anything about their personal opinions or private life which could cause any possible risk to their reputation. Daniel Johnson, however, has not only been willing to risk media criticism by defending the use of medication for ADHD, but he has even made his own ADHD diagnosis and medication status public in a show of true solidarity with all adults with ADHD in the UK. His courage and determination (sometimes known in the ADHD world as ‘not thinking something through before doing it’) is nothing short of inspirational, and he is an ambassador to us all.
However, despite these happy developments, there is still such a long way to go, and with every happy story comes another stigmatising headline or misrepresentative media portrayal. So far we haven’t actually seen any real change, or even any commitment to change, from our government. We need to keep fighting.