Many people with mental health problems have positive experiences at work. Working can help you feel connected, help you learn new skills and give you a sense of purpose.
Unfortunately, people can sometimes be treated unfairly at work because of their mental health problems. This is discrimination. The mental health charity Mind explains how the Equality Act is there to protect you from discrimination.
To be covered by the Equality Act your mental health problem needs to be defined as a disability. ‘Disability’ has a special legal meaning under the Equality Act, and can include mental health problems – find out more on Mind’s disability discrimination information page.
If you are considered ‘disabled’ under the Equality Act you can ask your employer to make ‘reasonable adjustments’. Rethink Mental Health has produced a guide about what’s reasonable at work. If you think you have been discriminated against at work because of your disability – Mind takes you through your options from raising it informally to following a formal grievance procedure.
If your work problems are not covered by disability discrimination there are other employment rights which may apply to your individual situation including the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 which ensure the health safety and welfare of employees at work.
If you are looking for work and are worried that you will be asked about your mental health by a potential employer – you can get some help and advice from Mind.
You can contact ACAS (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) on 0300 123 1100 if you are worried about discrimination at work. ACAS provides free and independent information on all aspects of workplace relations and employment law. ACAS and EASS (Equality Advisory Service) have created a 50-minute video as an employee’s guide to discrimination, which you can watch free online.