We want to end stigma and discrimination in education. Working with students and apprentices across Scotland we know that stigma around mental health and discrimination against mental illness is something that is experienced all too often.
Know your rights
Mental illness is protected under the disability protected characteristic in the Equality Act 2010. This means that if an illness lasts, or is expected to last for 12 months or more then it can be considered a “mental impairment which has substantial and long-term adverse effect on your ability to carry out day-to-day activities.”
Discrimination can be direct or indirect. Direct discrimination might exist whether it is or is not intentional and might mean that a student is treated less favourably than others due to their mental illness. Direct discrimination could also arise due to a perception- for example a student being treated less favourably based on the perception they have a history of depression.
Indirect discrimination might involve a rule, practice or provision which applies to all students but puts a student experiencing mental illness at a disadvantage. This could be unlawful if the rule or practice cannot be proportionately justified in the means of achieving legitimate aim. This applies whether discrimination was or was not intended.
What to expect
Staff in universities and colleges should be supported to understand and carry out their duties and have relevant training allowing them to have a knowledge of the Equality Act 2010.
If required,you should be offered or feel able to ask for reasonable adjustments to be made which will allow you to better manage your mental health while studying. Determining the reasonableness of adjustments is objective and institutions have a responsibility to take these steps.
You can find out more about Stigma and Discrimination by downloading our guide.