According to the latest research, 44 per cent of employees with mental health conditions are not aware that their condition could be classed as a disability and are missing out on legal protections in the workplace.
The survey, which was conducted by mental health charity Mind, found that once individuals were given the definition of a disability according to the Equality Act 2010, that 54 per cent of people felt that they met the criteria.
Mental health conditions can be classed as a disability if it significantly affects their ability to complete daily activities.
Experts have highlighted the need for more education in the workplace to increase awareness about mental health, while some have called for the Equality Act to be made more inclusive.
The current regulations in the Equality Act mean that if an individual has had the condition, or expects to have the condition, for 12 months, then they meet the criteria for legal protections.
There have also been calls for employers to be more proactive, taking steps if they suspect an employee might be disabled in order to help them understand how it may be affecting them.
Vicki Nash, Head of Policy and Campaigns at Mind, said: “Among those of us with mental health problems, there is a huge gap in awareness that could be covered by the Equality Act.
“This next Government must commit to clarifying the definition of a disability under the Act. This will help to protect (workers) from discrimination in the first place, and if they are discriminated against on the grounds of a health condition, enable them to challenge this.”
Samantha Randall, a Palmers Solicitor and employment law expert, said: “Mental health is now a massive issue in the workplace. Employers need to ensure that they provide employees with the optimum conditions where they feel they do not need to hide issues they are facing.”
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