One in four people in a given year experience mental illness and in 2014 a NUS survey found that Eight out of 10 students (78%) say they experienced mental health issues in the last year.
The Equality Act 2010 is legislation designed to give rights to those with ‘protected characteristics’; disability is one of those characteristics and this encompasses mental health difficulties. For a mental health difficulty to come under the protection of the law: There must be a substantial (more than minor, not trivial), adverse impairment in relation to daily activities. The difficulty should be long term (has lasted, or may well last, 12 months). The cumulative effects of a mental health difficulty may combine to render its total effect ‘substantial’. Difficulties that are episodic in nature are covered, if they are likely to reoccur. A person who has recovered from a mental health difficulty also remains protected by the Act if the difficulty is likely to reoccur.
Therefore it is worth disclosing to the university that you have a mental health difficulty.
Disclosing ensures that you are able to you receive an equitable service and enable you to reach your potential through putting reasonable adjustments or support in place. After disclosing it may be that strategies can be put in place so that you can head potential difficulties off.
There is no right or wrong to whether you decide to disclose or choose not to. It is a personal choice and there will be pros and cons as with every decision.
Common misconceptions about disclosing include:
“it will go on my employment record” – The university adheres to the data protection act and will not disclose personal information about you.
“I do not want to be at an unfair advantage and show what I can do on my own merit” – Any adjustments or support are designed to help you reach your potential and are about ensuring you are not at a disadvantage.
“It is not bad enough” – If it is ongoing or impacts on your daily life then why not find out if things can be improved.
To disclose you can either talk to your department of get in touch with the mental health and wellbeing team.
Don't forget, there's a bunch of ways to get support if you need it...
- Chat to your department or personal tutor.
- Get in touch with the mental health and wellbeing team. You can request an appointment with them, or come along to a wellbeing drop-in.
- Speak to the University Counselling Service - they offer face-to-face and email counselling, group therapy, issue-specific workshops, and self-help resources.
- Talk to a Chaplain.
- Chat to a member of your residential life team.
- Contact Nightline - they're a student-run confidential, and non-judgmental peer-to-peer support service. They're open 9pm-9am during term time.
- And if you need urgent support, please see the Crisis Situations page for more information about support which is available to you.