The Relationship Between EDI and Mental Health

Mental health problems are common and can be experienced by anyone regardless of your background or walk of life. However, some groups may be more likely to develop mental health problems than others.

Red Umbrella - Group Working Together.

Societal Risk Factors

There are various external factors that may influence mental health. For example, someone living in financial hardship may be at increased risk of developing ill mental health. 

Additionally, people in minority groups who are exposed to discrimination based on race, gender and sexual orientation are also at increased risk. According to research, 52% of LGBTQIA+ people have experienced depression in the last year.

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Impact of Stigma and Discrimination on People with Mental Health Problems

It has been found that nine out of ten people experiencing mental health problems stated that stigma has had a negative impact on their lives, struggling to find work, hold down long-term relationships, or be socially included in mainstream society.  

As well as this, sigma and discrimination can exacerbate mental health problems, and cause delays in getting help, resulting in individuals becoming trapped in a cycle of illness.

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Why Are People with Mental Health Problems Discriminated Against?

Unfortunately, society can have stereotypical views of ill mental health, with common misconceptions being that people with mental health problems are dangerous. This isn’t helped by the media’s portrayal of ill mental health, with media reports often linking ill mental health with criminals and violence. 

This can cause a negative association with mental health, resulting in people facing discrimination because of their conditions.

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What Can be Done about Stigma?

It’s important to show that it is not shameful to talk about thoughts and feelings, and challenging stigma can be as simple as asking someone if they’re okay not once, but twice. Providing a non-judgmental, supportive and open space, keeping language neutral and asking open questions can contribute towards encouraging people to seek help sooner, instead of waiting, which ends up losing valuable time in getting the right kind of support.

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What Can You Do if You Are Being Discriminated Against?

The Equality Act 2010 safeguards you from discrimination and lets you challenge it. It prohibits discrimination against individuals with mental health issues in the following situations:

  • At work, when applying for a job, or when leaving a job 

  • Using services such as hotels, restaurants, public transport, hospitals, local councils, and places of worship 

  • Interacting with organisations performing public functions such as tax collection or law enforcement 

  • Buying or renting a property

To ensure you are protected you must be able to show that your mental health problem is a disability. Although you may not think of yourself as disabled, the Equality Act could still protect you if you fit its definition of disability.

You can also talk to someone informally, or if this is unsuccessful, you can make a formal complaint against the person(s) discriminating against you. 

If your formal complaint doesn’t change anything, you can go one step further and complain to an ombudsman.

If you or someone you know is struggling with a mental health condition or suicidal thoughts and is in need of immediate help, there are resources. Please see the link below:

Get Discrimination Support

The Equality Advisory and Support Service can help and advise you if you’ve been discriminated against: https://www.equalityadvisoryservice.com/

Mental health services and urgent help are available through the NHS and local mental health charities and services. Please see the link below for more details: