Mental Health in the Workplace Level 2 (VTQ)

47 videos, 2 hours and 13 minutes

Course Content

Mental health, stereotyping, stigma and discrimination

Video 8 of 47
3 min 24 sec
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The Equality Act of 2010 makes it illegal to discriminate either directly or indirectly against individuals with mental health problems in public services and functions and in access to premises, work, education, associations and transport. Under the Equality Act, a mental health condition is considered a disability if it has a long-term effect on the person's normal day-to-day activity, with long-term being defined as where the condition lasts or is likely to last 12 months or more. However, this does not mean a person who is having a mental health problem has no recourse if they feel they have been discriminated against or because of a mental health problem that is not long term. When employers consider taking on new staff, they cannot set questions relating to mental or physical health as part of their recruitment process. Selecting candidates based on their current or past health records would not only be discriminatory, but it would also be illegal.

It is important to avoid making generalizations or assumptions about a person experiencing mental ill health, as stereotyping leads to prejudice, discrimination and inequality. Examples of stereotyping include when the assumption is made that someone experiencing mental ill health may be unpredictable, potentially even dangerous or violent, other stereotypical assumptions including believing that the person with mental health is somehow incapable, lacking in intelligence and possibly self-destructive or suicidal. These assumptions can cause stigma and this can result in a person being afraid to admit their illness and delaying seeking the support they need. This, in turn, may cause their physical health to decline and they risk becoming socially isolated. It may result in them losing their job or finding it hard to find employment in the first place.

Stigmas can make a person's symptoms worse and trap them in a negative cycle which can cause further difficulties, which in turn may make recovery more difficult. Myths and misconceptions surrounding mental ill health can put people off beginning a conversation about it because they're frightened that they may say the wrong thing. In some cases they may be reluctant because they think that if they offer to help someone, that person may become dependent on them emotionally, seeking them out and needing them to talk when it isn't convenient, generally making it more difficult for them to carry out their own duties effectively.

Where there is a poor cultural attitude to mental illness, it creates misunderstanding where people who need help don't get it because managers and colleagues believe that the problem will go away itself, or that someone else will deal with it. In this kind of environment, people may say, "Don't talk to her, she's upset," or, "I don't know what's wrong with him lately, best let him get on with it." This should not happen. Individual welfare is part of the workers' rights in the workplace and their mental ill health requires support in a dignified and respectful manner.