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Mental Health and Discrimination

Ill mental health affects many musicians and can affect performance and attendance. With the right support in the right job, being at work can be good for your mental health.

Last updated: 04 October 2023

What mental health is and how it may affect musicians at work

Ill mental health is very common. At least one in six people experience ill mental health, including anxiety and depression.

Research suggests that artists and performers are seven times more likely to experience ill mental health.

Mental health is often a taboo subject, but it is now becoming a subject that more and more people are talking about. Ill mental health affects so many people and can affect performance and attendance but, with the right support in the right job, being at work can be good for your mental health.

Remember that if your mental health condition is likely to mean that you’re disabled according to the definition in the Equality Act 2010, you are protected from discrimination and may be entitled to reasonable adjustments at work.

Is mental health issue considered a disability?

You may not identify as a ‘disabled person’ but if you have a mental health condition, you may be affected by it in such a way that you are considered disabled under the Equality Act 2010. The law is there to protect people from disability discrimination and to ensure that they get what they need at work or in accessing services.

You don’t have to have any particular diagnosis to be entitled to support. If you would be affected in a way that is more than minor or trivial in carrying out ‘day-today activities’, you are covered by the Equality Act 2010.

You are also protected by the Equality Act if you have met the above criteria in the past and have now recovered.

How can the Equality Act 2010 help with mental health discrimination at work?

There are many ways in which you are protected by the Equality Act 2010. For example, if someone learns that you have had time off work in the past linked to a particular condition and they deny you a job, promotion or treat you unfairly at work in another way because of that, they may be guilty of direct discrimination.

Employers must also provide reasonable adjustments to people who are eligible, including people with a mental health conditions.

What adjustments at workplace can help people with mental health condition?

Everyone is different, and, in some ways, there are as many adjustments as there are people in particular roles.

Here are a few examples of adjustments for people with mental health conditions:

  • Time off to attend appointments for treatment or therapy related to your mental health or an understanding that you might need to leave the workplace for a break suddenly without having to explain if you just need some time out
  • Support with managing workload and priorities
  • Working the right number of hours – not too many, not too few
  • A quiet space – or regular interaction (some people particularly thrive or struggle with one or the other)
  • Attitudes of colleagues – training in mental health can ensure a more supportive response
  • Phased return to work after a period of time away due to illness
  • Job redesign and redeployment – if there are no adjustments that would allow you to remain in your original role, sometimes it may be possible to swop duties with someone else or to be redeployed to a different role

How can I raise this with my employer?

If you are comfortable to do so, you can discuss workplace matters with your workplace rep initially as they will know whether similar concerns have been raised by other people.

If you do not have a rep or you are not comfortable discussing your concerns with your rep, you should contact your MU Regional Office for advice.

If you aren’t sure what would help, contact your regional office for advice or you could talk to a mental health organisation such as Mind or Rethink for support.

Further resources on mental health at work<

You can find more information about staying well at work at:

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The MU has a network of experienced teams available to help musicians in all areas of the industry. If you have any questions about our services, membership or how the MU could help you, please don't hesitate to get in touch.

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