Explains the law that protects you from discrimination by organisations or people that provide goods, facilities or services. Explains what you can do if you have been discriminated against and where you can get support and advice.
There are six types of disability discrimination under the Equality Act 2010. This page gives some examples of how these might occur in everyday life:
To find out more about each of these types of discrimination, see our information on disability discrimination.
Jeannette goes to her dentist for a routine appointment. She experiences panic attacks as one symptom of her long-term mental health condition. She suddenly runs out of the dental surgery in the middle of her treatment. The dentist says she is not prepared to treat her anymore because of her behaviour.
The dentist is refusing Jeannette a service because of behaviour related to her disability. This may be discrimination arising from disability.
But her dentist can justify that the decision if she can show that:
An outdoor centre provides a variety of activities from walks on gravelled areas to ones involving strenuous physical activities. Their policy says they will only let people do the activities if they have a medical certificate of good health.
Ensuring health and safety is reasonable, but applying a policy like this to every activity is likely to be indirect discrimination. This is because customers who had mental health problems would not be able to join any activities and so would be treated worse than other customers.
People with mental health problems might be quite capable of:
But it will not be indirect discrimination if the outdoor centre is able to justify this policy by showing that it is:
Organisations providing services or public functions also have an anticipatory duty to make reasonable adjustments for disabled people. That means planning their services with the needs of people with mental health problems in mind. Read more about the anticipatory duty to make reasonable adjustments.
Patrick has been diagnosed with schizophrenia. He goes to the counter to pay for his shopping in his local supermarket. The till operator tells him to hurry up and abuses him in front of other customers, referring to his mental health problem. Patrick is humiliated and distressed. This is harassment.
Sarah makes a complaint that her GP’s receptionist has discriminated against her because of her mental health problem. As a result, her GP practice manager tells her she must leave the practice and register with another practice. This is likely to be victimisation.
These are changes that:
should make for you if you are at a major disadvantage because of your mental health problems and it is reasonable.
Examples of reasonable adjustments include:
An advocate is a person who can both listen to you and speak for you in times of need. Having an advocate can be helpful in situations where you are finding it difficult to make your views known, or to make people listen to them and take them into account.
See our pages on advocacy for more information.See our full list of legal terms.
Organisations and people who provide services or public functions and clubs and associations have to plan in advance to take account of the difficulties that disabled people may face.
This means they must think and plan ahead to make sure that disabled people can access their services. This includes thinking about reasonable adjustments they could make.See our full list of legal terms.
This information was published in February 2018. We will revise it in 2020.
References are available on request. If you would like to reproduce any of this information, see our page on permissions and licensing.