Social Experiences Of People With Mental Health Conditions

Extent and Various Natures of Mental Health Conditions

The term disability can be defined as the physical, cognitive or developmental condition that disrupts or impairs the ability of an individual to engage in certain activities and interactions (Mental health foundation. 2016). Any kind of disability negatively affects or deteriorates the way of living of an individual. However this paper would describe the experiences of the people with cognitive disability or mental health problem. The first part of the report would focus on the extent and the various natures of the mental health conditions including the demographical information, the causative factors of the illness, the socio economic consequences, marginalization, stigmatization and gender inequality. The second part of the report would give an account of the social policy responses (legislation and the programs) to address the mental health condition in patients.

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As stated earlier, the chosen group of this study is those with mental health conditions.

In UK, one out of six individual have mental health problem. According to The Department of Health and the Confederation of British Industry, 15 % – 20 % of the employees would experience some kind of mental health condition at workplace (Mental health foundation. 2016). The depression is the commonest among the various types of mental health disorder.

In UK mental health problems are the leading causes of the distress, illness and the disability and hence carry a significant financial burden. According tothe researches, the total mental health cost in Britain is about £32Billion. Mental health problems poses significant demand on the National health services (NHS), employers, social services, employers and the society as a whole(Mental health foundation. 2016). The Black, Asian and the minority ethnic (BAME) communities are likely to face discrimination due to mental illness.

  • According to UK National Labor Force Survey, only 20 %of the people suffering mental health problems have been found to be employed. About one third of the people having mental disorders have shared that they have been compelled to resign from the job or has been dismissed. 40% has admitted that they have been denied a job for a history of psychiatric problem. 60% of the people admit that they do not apply in fear that they will be dealt with unfairly (Wheat et al., 2010). According to Berthoud et al. (1993), British workers with mental health disorders face a life of lower earnings. As per the evidences provided by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, there is a stark difference between the earnings of those with mental health disorder and those who are not (Burchardt 2000). People with mental health problems earn only 58p for every pound that their healthy contemporaries earn. The pay gap may increase to 42% pay gap.
  • People with mental health illness are marginalized due to the discrimination faced by them. Most of the people with mental illness are likely to be unemployed, which contribute to their poor socio-economic status. Lack of money also deprives them from nutritious food and sanitation and cleanliness that results in social exclusion (Wheat et al. 2010).
  • Public stigma is the response that that the general population give with people suffering from mental health disorder. Stigmatizing views related to mental illness is not confined to the ignorant members of the society. Even the well trained experts also hold stereotypes regarding mental illness (Corrigan and Watson,  2002). Individuals with mental disorders are often faced with structural violence which refers to marginalization, unjust distribution of the wealth and discriminated access to the basic human rights. Structural violence is insidious for people with mental illness and makes these people feel hopeless, disempowered, helpless and even guilty. People with mental disorder face discrimination mainly in case of education, employment and relationships. According to Ferrieet al.(2008), individuals with mental health disorder are likely to get less education or in many cases no education as most of them are being institutionalized, that focus on the weaknesses of these people rather than the strengths.
  • There are evidences of racial discrimination that worsens the disparities in access to healthcare, diagnosis and treatment of psychiatric illness. Centuries of stigmatization, discrimination and unequal access to education and unemployment continue to be present every aspect of physical and mental health.

The government has always been proactive for the people with mental health and has worked on several policies and strategies to improve the life of such individuals. Since it is the people with mental health issues that face discrimination at workplace.The Disabled Persons Employment Act 1944 provided with a comprehensive structure for the employment of the disabled people. The disabled persons Employment Act 1944 was not very effective as the resources for the employments were limited (House of Commons library, 2017). Most of the employees were unaware of the rules and could not adhere to the legal guidelines. Later on Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) was passed.. DDA considers the types of discrimination like direct discrimination (such as banning an employee with a mental health disorder), disability related discriminated and harassment. This law was replaced in the year 2010 by the Equality Act in Wales, Scotland and England (House of Commons library, 2017).

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Social Policy Responses to Address Mental Health Conditions

In October 2014, the NHS England have published the Improving access to mental health services by 2020, which propose a series of recommendations for ensuring proper mental and physical health services. The Health and Social Care Act 2012 was made in response to that was designed to diagnose and treat both the physical and mental health issue. In January 2014,  Closing the Gap: priorities for essential change in mental health was published, which emphasized on 4 areas of change, such as increasing the access to the mental health services, integration of the physical and mental health care, starting early, for promoting mental wellbeing and prevent mental health problems. The Mental Health Crisis Care Concordat was published by the Department of Health and signatories in February 2014. It contained an objective for ensuring that the mental health emergencies are treated with equal urgency as the physical health related emergencies. It focused mainly on four areas- Access to support before the crisis point, the quality of the treatment and care when in crisis, provision to urgent emergency access in emergency condition. The equality act (2010), requires different organizations to make reasonable adjustments for the employers with mental disorders.  The different occupational departments set by the government are able to provide support to the employees with mental health problem. In order to save the children from social exclusion, the children fund was set up in 2000, to provide them with asylum, education, counseling, thus creating pathways to inclusion. The Employability Service West Cork, is an intervention program initiated by the U.K government, to support employment programs for those with mental health disorders.

The government of UK has also take initiatives in improving the health based places of safety. For example, According to the Sections 135 and 136 of the Mental Health Act 1983,  a person with a mental disorder can be detained or removed by the police to a place of safety, unless the completion of an assessment (House of Commons library, 2017). Focus was also given to the mental health and the criminal justice system. Under the Mental health Act 1983, the liaison services offer services to the prisoners with mental health disability or substance abuse problem. An extra£25m of funding has been considered for the mental health nurses and the professionals working in police stations and courts, such that this vulnerable group can get the suitable treatment (Fazel and Seewald, 2012). Recently, the Scottish government has announced a ten years mental health strategy, in order to improve the access to the service to people with mental health disorders. The mental health strategy 2012-2015 has identified seven key themes such as working more effectively with the caregivers and the family, increasing the support for the self-management, extending the agenda for the anti-stigmatization and discrimination, emphasizing on the rights for those with mental health illness. Some of the other strategies and policies taken up by the government involved Regional Mental Health Care Pathway: You in Mind, Mental Health (Scotland) Bill (Mental health foundation. 2016).


In spite of several strategies taken up by the U. K government, mental health problem are still one of the main reason of the overall disease burden of United Kingdom. Mental health disorder causes marginalization of an individual due to low SES, stigmatization, unemployment and racism.  The stigma regarding the mental disorder still persists in spite of the discrimination laws. The health care committees require a robust task force to deliver a high quality of care addressing the discrimination in education and employment rate.  More focus has to be given on the children and young people’s mental health, including the actions like improving the access to psychological rehabilitations for children.

Berthoud, R. et al. 1993., The economic problems of disabled people, London: Policy Studies Institute

Burchardt R.,2000. Enduring economic exclusion: Disabled people, income and work, JRF Report, York: York publishing services

CORRIGAN, P. W., and WATSON, A. C. 2002. Understanding the impact of stigma on people with mental illness. World Psychiatry, 1(1), 16–20.

Corrigan, P.W., Morris, S.B., Michaels, P.J., Rafacz, J.D. and Rüsch, N., 2012. Challenging the public stigma of mental illness: a meta-analysis of outcome studies. Psychiatric services, 63(10), pp.963-973.

Fazel, M., Reed, R.V., Panter-Brick, C. and Stein, A., 2012. Mental health of displaced and refugee children resettled in high-income countries: risk and protective factors. The Lancet, 379(9812), pp.266-282.

Fazel, S. and Seewald, K., 2012. Severe mental illness in 33 588 prisoners worldwide: systematic review and meta-regression analysis. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 200(5), pp.364-373.

Ferrie, J., Lerpiniere, J., Paterson, K., Pearson, C. Stalker, K. and Watson, N. (2008) In-Depth Examination of the Implementation of the Disability Equality Duty in England: Report to the Office for Disability Issues London: Department for Work and Pensions

Goldberg, D. and Huxley, P., 2012. Mental illness in the community: the pathway to psychiatric care. Routledge.

Hawes, A. M., Axinn, W. G., and Ghimire, D. J. 2016. Ethnicity and Psychiatric Disorders. Annals of Psychiatry and Mental Health, 4(4), p.p.1072.

House of Commons library, 2017.Mental health policy in England. Access date: 24th July 2018. Retrieved from:

Mental health foundation. 2016. Mental health statistics: UK and worldwide. Access date: 28th July 2018. Retrieved from:

Wheat, K., Brohan, E., Henderson, C., and Thornicroft, G. 2010. Mental illness and the workplace: conceal or reveal? Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, 103(3), 83–86.

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