Friday, 9 December 2016

Disclosing a mental health difficulty: your rights

Students with mental health difficulties can disclose this on their UCAS application to ensure they can access the support they are entitled to. Do you know what your rights are? And what if you don’t want to disclose? UMHAN and Student Minds answer these questions in this short blog.

What are my rights?

You have a right to equal treatment. Many people worry that if they disclose a mental health difficulty, it will affect whether they are accepted. However, Equality Act legislation makes it illegal for staff to discriminate against you. The decision of whether you are offered a place on a course must be purely down to academic suitability. Some courses such as nursing, teaching, or social work additionally require a fitness-to-practice assessment.

You have a right for your information to be protected. Another worry is that if you disclose, your mental health difficulty will become common knowledge. However, your information will only be shared with people who need to know at the time you are disclosing. Staff will adhere to the Data Protection Act, ensuring your information is processed appropriately and sensitively.

You have a right to support. If you have a mental health difficulty, providing support is your course provider’s responsibility. Seeking support isn’t asking for special treatment – it’s asking your course provider to ensure you have access to the same opportunities as other students. Disclosing is, for many, an empowering experience.

What if I don’t disclose?
Choosing whether to disclose is a personal decision. If you change your mind, it’s never too late to disclose – go to your university support services and they will help you access the support you are entitled to.

A common reason for not disclosing is that you don’t feel you would currently benefit from support. This may be true, but note that disclosure has a preventative element. Disclosure makes the process of seeking support smoother, should you need later it.

Find out more

In 2015, UMHAN launched the #IChoseToDisclose campaign. By producing blogs answering questions surrounding disclosure, they aim to empower students to make an informed decision.

Student Minds is the UK’s student mental health charity. For further support with mental health difficulties at university, visit their website.

We hope this blog helps you come to a decision regarding disclosure. If you have further questions about disclosing on your application form, get in touch with UCAS.

This blog was written by student mental health charities UMHAN and Student Minds.

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