Discrimination using services and public functions

Explains the law that protects you from discrimination when you use services or public functions, what you can do if you have been discriminated against and where you can get support and advice. Applies to England and Wales.


Sometimes people are offered a worse service because of their mental health condition. This is called discrimination and, if you experience it when you use services or public functions, you may have a legal right to challenge it.

Quick facts

  • The Equality Act 2010 is the law that gives you the right to challenge discrimination. You are protected under the Equality Act if you can show that you have been treated worse because of certain protected characteristics, like a mental health problem.
  • The Equality Act protects you from discrimination when you use services or public functions.
    • Services includes services provided by private companies (like hotels and restaurants), hospitals and government departments.
    • A public function is an act or activity taken by a public authority (like the police, NHS hospitals and government departments), which is not a service; for example, law enforcement or the collection of taxes.
  • Organisations and people providing services or public functions have to make adjustments for you if your disability puts you at a disadvantage compared with others who are not disabled, and it is reasonable for them to do so.
  • If a public authority has discriminated against you when providing you services or public functions, you might also be able to complain that they have not followed the public sector equality duty.
  • If you think you have experienced disability discrimination, there are several things you can do to make a complaint.

Please note

  • This guide covers¬†discrimination when you use services or public functions from the point of view of a person with a mental health problem.
  • This guide applies to England and Wales.
  • This guide contains general legal information, not legal advice. We recommend you get advice from a specialist legal adviser or solicitor who will help you with your individual situation and needs. See Useful contacts for more information.
  • The legal information in this guide does not apply to children unless specifically stated.


This information was published in March 2016. We will revise it in 2019.

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