Mental health and the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA)
Many people think a physical or sensory impairment is a disability and a mental impairment is not. But if you have a mental health problem you may be covered by the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA).
The Disability Discrimination Act
If your mental illness has a substantial, adverse and long-term effect on your ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities then you are likely to be covered by the DDA. The Act also covers people who have had a disability in the past.
The Act does not provide a list of impairments that are covered, but instead considers the effects of an impairment on a person.
For example, someone with a mild form of depression with only minor effects may not be covered, while someone with severe depression with substantial effects on their daily life is likely to be considered as having a disability under the Act.
Many people with a mental health condition do not think of themselves as having a 'disability' - but they may have rights supported by the DDA.
There are many different types of mental health conditions which can lead to a disability, including:
- bipolar disorder
- obsessive compulsive disorder
This is not an exhaustive list and there are varying degrees of severity. The charity Mind has factsheets on a range of mental health conditions in their 'Understanding' series.
What does the DDA mean?
The DDA aims to end discrimination against people with disabilities in a range of circumstances, including in employment, education and the provision of goods and services.
For instance, if a student with a personality disorder was refused entry to college on the grounds that her disability may make her disruptive, this might amount to unlawful disability discrimination, unless it can be justified.