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Is Mental Health A Disability Uk

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What Is The Equality Act

#mhTV episode 20 – Mental health & learning disability nursing in England

If you have a physical or mental impairment that has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on your ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities, you can use the Equality Act to protect you against discrimination in education, work and services provided for you. It can require employers, colleges, venues and service providers to make reasonable adjustments, provide support and make things accessible.

You are also protected from discrimination if you are connected with someone who has a disability such as a family member or friend or if you’ve complained about discrimination or supported someone elses claim.

The Equality Act also protects you if you are discriminated against because of age, sex, sexual orientation, religion and belief, gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity, marriage and civil partnership.

The Act applies in Great Britain only. If you are from Northern Ireland, contact the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland

What is Physical or mental impairment?

Physical or mental impairment can include:

There is no need for you to have a medically diagnosed cause for your impairment. What matters is the effect of the impairment on you.

What is a substantial and long-term adverse effect?

Substantial adverse effect

A substantial adverse effect is something that is more than minor or trivial and goes beyond the normal differences in ability which may exist between people.

Long-term effect?

A long-term effect is one:

What are normal day-to-day activities?

Messages For Mental Health And Learning Disability Settings

Patients or individuals will fall into either low, medium or high risk COVID-19 pathways.

Patients must be triaged and tested on admission. A SARS-CoV-2 PCR test is required on admission, that is day 1, day 3 and day 5 to 7 of admission.

Patients will require to be re-tested on their return if they leave the ward or unit over a 24-hour period.

Patients who do not consent to testing should undergo a dynamic clinical risk assessment to take into consideration their individual risk factors and whether they have had contact with a known COVID-19 case. These patients will be managed on the medium risk COVID-19 pathway for 14 days unless testing can be undertaken.

Patients who are known to have been exposed to a confirmed COVID-19 patient while on the ward should be isolated or cohorted with other similarly exposed patients who do not have COVID-19 symptoms, until their hospital admission ends or until 14 days after last exposure.

If symptoms of COVID-19 occur at any time during admission, then SARS-CoV-2 PCR testing should be undertaken. These patients should be isolated or cohorted in the high risk pathway. Patients can still be discharged during the period of isolation and isolation would continue at home. Refer to the relevant pathway discharge section within the COVID-19: Infection prevention and control guidance.

Sessional use of single use personal protective equipment items only applies to the extended use of facemasks and eye or face protection for healthcare workers.

The Commission For Equality And Human Rights

The Equality and Human Rights Commission was established through the EqualityAct 2006. It has three main pillars: equality, human rights and good relations.On equality, the Commission will have powers similar to those of the DisabilityRights Commission and will promote and monitor the Disability Equality Duty.The government is committed to single equality legislation, designed to bringcoherence to equalities legislation. This is likely to mean that the Equalityand Human Rights Commission will in time be tasked with promoting positiveequality duties covering all six areas . It is also tasked with promoting humanrights, which could encompass issues such as rights to dignity, privacy andfamily life, for example, in health and social care facilities. Finally, itwill promote good relations between groups and communities. Although this hasbeen largely discussed in relation to ethnic and faith communities it might beapplied, for example, to countering nimby not in my back yard campaigns.

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If You Take Medication Or Have Treatment For Your Condition

The legal test for disability is based on what the impact of your condition would be without any medication or treatment. Treatment includes things like counselling as well as medication. For example, if you have arthritis and use a walking stick, think about how hard it would be for you to walk without it.

The legal test doesn’t apply if you have a visual impairment. Legally, you are considered disabled if there’s a significant impact on your eyesight even when you’re wearing glasses or contact lenses.

When Does Mental Health Become A Disability

Mental Health statistics in the UK

A disability is defined by the dictionary as any condition that limits a persons movements, senses, or activities. We will all have our own perceptions of exactly what a disability is, but it is widely accepted that those in wheelchairs or with guide dogs may be classed as disabled.

These disabilities are visible and have become a normal part of our society, but invisible disabilities exist too. These hidden disabilities could take many forms, but, some of the least recognised are disabilities that occur from poor mental health such as chronic depression or severe anxiety.

We have all heard of mental health before. In fact, everyone will experience days when their mental health may be bad, maybe you have just lost a job or even a loved one. For many people, bad mental health will come and go but, this isnt the case for everyone. Some people may suffer from mental health conditions that turn into disabilities. These conditions may not be visible in the same way as other disabilities but can still have a huge impact on a persons life. People who do suffer from mental health disabilities may be entitled to extra support or help that could improve their quality of life, so it is helpful to know when a mental health condition becomes a disability.

When does mental health become a disability?

Long-term conditions

When symptoms cause adverse effects

  • Lack of motivation
  • Extreme anxiety about certain situations or objects
  • Low self-esteem/self-worth

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What If You Have A Condition Which Gets Worse Over Time

Some conditions start out as having a minor effect on your daily life, but get worse over time. This kind of condition is called a progressive condition – for example, dementia and motor neurone disease. With conditions like this, it doesn’t matter if it only has a minor effect now. It can still be treated as a disability as long as it’s having some effect on your daily life now and it’s likely to have a substantial effect in the future.


You’ve been diagnosed with dementia. Although the effects are quite minor at the moment, your condition is likely to get much worse in the future and have a substantial effect on your daily life. Your condition would be treated as a disability under the Equality Act.

Can Discrimination Be Allowed

Some kinds of discrimination arent allowed. A service or employer cant discriminate directly against a disabled person.

Indirect discrimination and discrimination arising from a disability can affect a disabled person. However, a service or employer can allow this if it is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim. We explain this sentence below.

What is a legitimate aim?

The Equality Act doesnt say what a legitimate aim is, but this could be quite broad. Legitimate means valid. Something is likely to be a valid aim if it is fair and reasonable.

This could include:

  • the health and safety of staff or people using a service,
  • the needs of the service, and
  • needing to make a profit.

What does proportionate mean?

Proportionate means fair. There must be a balance between the service or employers needs and your needs as a disabled person.

When a service or employer is thinking about their aims, they should make sure they are fair. They should try to reach their aim in a way that discriminates the least.

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Both Disabled Men And Disabled Women Have Poorer Well

The differences between disabled and non-disabled people on all four measures of well-being are similar for both men and women. For disabled men, average happiness, worthwhile and life satisfaction ratings were between 1.03 and 1.32 points lower than for non-disabled men, while anxiety ratings were scored 1.49 higher, at 4.00 out of 10. For disabled women, average well-being ratings were between 0.92 and 1.16 points lower, with anxiety scored 1.65 higher, at 4.46 out of 10.

Average life satisfaction, worthwhile and happiness ratings are higher for women than they are for men and this is true for both disabled and non-disabled people. Conversely, the average rating for anxiety is poorer for women and this is also true for both disabled and non-disabled people.

See the Disability and well-being dataset Table 3 for further information on the analysis of well-being by disability and sex.

Both disabled men and women were more likely to report feeling lonely often or always, compared with their non-disabled counterparts. When comparing disabled and non-disabled men, there was a difference of 10.5 percentage points. For women, this difference was 9.3 percentage points.

See the Disability and loneliness dataset Table 4 for further information on the analysis of loneliness by disability and sex.

Disability Discrimination Act 1995

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The Disability Discrimination Act was originally passed in 1995 . Mental health problems,current and recovered, ranging from schizophrenia and bipolar affectivedisorder to panic disorders and depressive conditions arepotentially within the scope of the Act. A more complete explanation of the Actand its implications for psychiatrists can be found in our earlier article.

Box 2Summary of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995

  • Covers protection from discrimination for disabled people in theareas of:

  • employment

  • provision of goods, services and facilities

  • education

  • transport

  • Makes it unlawful in these areas to treat someone lessfavourably for a reason related to their disability

  • The definition of a disabled person is someone with a physicalor mental impairment that has a substantial and long-termadverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-dayactivities

  • Employers are required to identify obstacles to employment andto make reasonable adjustments to overcome these

  • It is unlawful not to make adjustments to enable a person to useservices unless to do so would be unreasonable

  • Public, private and voluntary sector service providers of allsizes are covered

  • Protection from discrimination in education covers early years,primary and secondary schooling, colleges and universities, andlife-long learning

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    When Does Depression Become A Disability

    A mental health condition is considered a disability if it has a long-term effect on normal day-to-day activity.

    This shows there are two factors you need to considerWhat is the extent of the impairment and what is the effect on the employee?

    Normal day-to-day activity is defined as something one would do regularly in a normal day. This includes things like using a computer, working set times or interacting with people. This is fairly easy to classify.

    However, its the second qualifier that you may struggle with. Law defines it as around lasting, or likely to last, around 12 months. But the nature of depression means it can occur, improve, and then recur again.

    For this reason, it’s tricky to determine the time the condition lasts.

    Make sure you take both factors into consideration before considering dismissing an employee with depression.

    Breaking Down The Components Of The Definition

    • It may not always be possible to categorise a condition as either a physical or a mental impairment. It is not necessary to consider the cause of an impairment.
    • ‘Substantial’ – more than minor or trivial.
    • Long-term’ – the effect of an impairment is long-term if:
      • It has lasted for at least 12 months
      • It is likely to last for at least 12 months or
      • It is likely to last for the rest of the life of the person affected.

    Disability includes situations where an impairment stops having a substantial adverse effect on a person’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities, but the effect is likely to reoccur. The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 defines ‘normal day-to-day activity’. The Equality Act 2010 does not define this. However, the guidance published alongside the Act gives some advice .

    Organisations must consider all of the factors above when deciding whether a person is disabled. We expect organisations to approach the issue in an open, supportive way.

    If there is doubt about whether an individual will be covered, an organisation can choose to focus on identifying reasonable adjustments and support measures that will assist them. A court or a tribunal ultimately decide if there is a dispute on whether someone meets the legal definition.

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    The Legal Definition Of Disability

    The Equality Act 2010 and Disability Discrimination Act 1995 define a disabled person:

  • ‘A person has a disability if:
  • They have a physical or mental impairment, and
  • the impairment has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on the person’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.’
  • Disability affects a great amount of people. There are nearly 13.3 million disabled people in the UK, nearly one in five of the population.

    Expert Support On Dismissals From Croner

    The costs of maternal mental health problems

    Mental health and wellbeing will be a big part of all your employees working lives. It is important to recognise and account for this. But sometimes, a dismissal is the only option.

    Our experienced employment law and HR advisors can help you navigate this difficult subject. With expert advice, you can be sure you are making the right decision.

    Our experts provide free help, support, and advice tailored to your requirements. Call us for free today on .

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    Does The Equality Act Protect Me Because Of My Mental Illness

    What is discrimination?

    The Equality Act protects certain groups of people from unfair treatment and discrimination. Discrimination is when a person is treated unfairly because the person has a certain characteristic.

    The Equality Act protects you from discrimination because of your:

    • age,
    • estate agents.

    What If You Have Treatment For A Progressive Condition Which Makes You Better

    If you have treatment for a progressive condition which makes you better, you may no longer be treated as disabled. If the treatment makes you completely well, you’ll no longer be treated as disabled. But if the condition isn’t completely cured and still has some effects, you will still be treated as disabled.

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    Development Of The Act: Limitations And Progress

    In the early years of implementation of the Disability Discrimination Act itwas clear that attitudes towards employing people with disabilities andemployment practices were improving. This is beginning to apply to those withpsychiatric as well as physical impairments . The proportion of employerswith disability policies rose from just over 65% in 2001 to 90% in 2002 . By2005 almost all of the employing organisations surveyed said that theyhad a formal policy on disability, typically as part of a wider equality ordiversity policy . Between2001 and 2002, employers stating that they employ people with disabilities orlong-term health problems rose from 87% to 95% and reasons for this includedboth a commitment to corporate social responsibility and DisabilityDiscrimination Act compliance . Employers are increasingly allowingabsence for rehabilitation and treatment ,acquiring or modifying equipment, altering individual working hours, assigninga person to other work and providing flexible working arrangements .

    Box 4Steps that an employer may have to take in employing a disabledperson

  • Making adjustments to premises

  • Modifying instructions or reference manuals

  • Modifying procedures for testing or assessment

  • Providing a reader or interpreter

  • Providing supervision

  • The rate of employment among people with long-term mental health problems wentup from 15% in 1998 to 20% in 2005 still very low, but showing a modest rise.

    Mental Health Statistics: Uk And Worldwide

    Leading support for people with mental health issues and learning disabilities: Expo 2017

    Mental health problems are a growing public health concern. They are prevalent not just in the UK, but around the world.

    • Mental health problems are one of the main causes of the overall disease burden worldwide.1
    • Mental health and behavioural problems are reported to be the primary drivers of disability worldwide, causing over 40 million years of disability in 20 to 29-year-olds.2
    • Major depression is thought to be the second leading cause of disability worldwide and a major contributor to the burden of suicide and ischemic heart disease.3
    • It is estimated that 1 in 6 people in the past week experienced a common mental health problem4

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    Depression And Poor Work Performance

    One way you can support your employees with their mental health and wellbeing is to create an environment where staff can talk openly about any issues theyre having.

    You can create this kind of culture in several ways:

    • Make sure regular meetings are occurring between employees and managers
    • Encourage mental health awareness training or workshops
    • Appoint mental health champions employees can speak to
    • Adopt a mental health strategy and implement a mental health policy
    • Train managers on how to approach someone who is experiencing mental health problems

    Of course, if youre already managing an employee who is too depressed to work, the above might not be helpful. Instead, make sure theyre aware of the person they need to speak to within the business to arrange time off.

    Dont downplay their condition just because it is mental health and not physical health.

    Remember, if an employee is not able to work due to depression in the UK, employment law may protect them.

    Once they are off work, be sure to check in at regular intervals. Dont pressure the employee to come back to work. If they are off work for a substantial amount of time you may arrange a meeting with them to discuss getting them back into work.

    In this meeting, you need to consider any reasonable adjustments you can make to support their return.

    You can refer the employee to occupational health to assess their current capability.

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