Karen Jackson, solicitor and managing partner at law employment boutique didlaw, has claimed that little progress has been made on the issue of disability discrimination due to the fact that employers are still failing to adequately address the problem.
“The number of disabled employees seeking legal advice is a non-stop stream,” she said. “Often it is not necessarily deliberate – just badly managed and insensitively handled.”
While disability discrimination in the workplace needs to be tackled in every area and at all levels, Ms Jackson emphasised that those with mental health disabilities tend to fare worse than employees with physical disabilities as there is less understanding of these issues.
“The social perception of what it is to have mental health disabilities has not really progressed when it comes to whether an employer wishes to rehabilitate someone with a mental health issue,” she added.
“This is a huge pool of wasted talent. It also means that people with mental health disabilities cannot declare their conditions if they wish to work. That cannot be right.”
With the increased stress and anxiety that has come with the recession, creating an inclusive workplace for people with mental health problems should be a priority for employers.
According to the mental health charity Mind, one in six workers is currently suffering from anxiety, depression or stress but many are unwilling to disclose their problems as they fear discrimination.
With 70 million working days lost every year due to poor mental health, it is in the interest of the business for employers to address the issue head on and create a supportive environment for those suffering with mental health problems or any other disability.