It has been estimated that around 80% of those living in the UK suffer from an invisible disability.
Invisible disabilities are impairments that are not immediately physical visible. Unless an individual voices their own invisible disability, its mostly unknown. This could include your employees, colleagues, volunteers, pupils and service users. People find it difficult to disclose this type of personal information in fear that they’re going to be judged and discriminated against.
It is not a choice but an illness- Mental illnesses
Mental health issues such as: depression, anxiety and bipolar can affect an individual. Those who are living with a mental illness tend to be labelled as ‘miserable,’ ‘attention seeking,’ and/or pessimistic etc. When in matter or fact, mental illnesses affects how one thinks, feels relate to others and make choices. Mental illnesses can stem from a variety of things: biological factors, life experiences, family history, but needless to say, just because someone is from a ‘happier’ lifestyle then yourself, that they can’t be facing one. Mental health issues can grow from many different experiences which leads to Individuals experiencing and dealing with them in different ways.
50% of employees don’t feel like their mental health is a big enough priority for their employers, yet 40% of employees take time off in relation to their mental illness. The Equality Act of 2010 legally covers mental illnesses as they are classed as a disability. If your employee has a mental illness, you have a duty to make reasonable adjustments.
Like with mental illnesses, they affect person to person differently- Learning Disability
A learning disability is when people have difficulties in learning new skills such as reading, writing, spelling or understanding and processing information, communicating and interacting with others. Depending on what type of disability a person has, they may still be able to live by themselves, but a person with more severe disabilities may need round the house care. Learning abilities are not curable and something that will affect a person for their whole life. The number of learning disabilities is constantly rising in the UK, momentarily sitting at around 1.5 million, 350,000 being a severe disability, 2.16% being in adults and 2.5 of children. It is not always obvious when someone suffers from a learning difficulty, if they can still learn, communicate and live their day to day lives. A learning disability occurs when the brain is developing either before birth, during of in early childhood. The cause is not always known but some examples of what causes one are: inherited condition, premature birth, abnormal chromosomes. 870,000 adults of working age (16+) are living with a learning disability.
What an individual lacks, they gain another skill.
How might this affect them in the workplace? Having a learning disability can affect how an individual works/copes in the standard office environment. Just because someone lives with their disability, it shouldn’t change how they are treated in a job. An office job may not be suited for one but will be for another, and should not put employers off the prospect of employing someone. Everything in this day and age comes with a cost, but if the cost benefits you, why not go for it?
Working with Bridge of Hope has highlighted for me the importance of making the necessary changes to make sure all work places are inclusive, while working with some amazing clients who are working with us, slowly making the world a better place.