The first thing said to me at Ingeus by the advisor I was seeing after the usual greetings was this and I quote;
“The file sent to us states your disabled and unable to work”
That’s news to me.
In all my dealings with the Jobcentre Plus and Department for Work & Pensions at no time did they tell me they had classified me as disabled, it was always stated as 'sick and unable to work'.
What’s the difference? Well to me the words sick and disability have different implications, sick is temporarily and disability is permanent.
It looks as though now depression can be classified as a disability in certain circumstances (http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/+/www.direct.gov.uk/en/DisabledPeople/HealthAndSupport/MentalHealth/DG_10023351)
“Many people with a mental health condition do not think of themselves as 'disabled' - but they may have rights supported by the Disability Discrimination Act.”
Certainly there is a need for those of us who have a mental health issue to have rights which protect us from discrimination (or attempt to address the discrimination anyway).
When I have encountered the question on application forms “do you consider yourself to have a disability” I always answer no and will continue to do so regardless of what the DWP or anyone else say.
If your mental illness affects your ability to carry out day-to-day activities then you are likely to be covered by the Disability Discrimination Act.
The trouble with the above statement is (in my case only) my mental illness does not always affect my day-to-day activities, usually the only time it does is when it is a severe episode.
These are not common anymore and the recurrence of them during a 12 month period is not guaranteed to happen, the trigger for them to occur takes considerable and enduring levels of stress. If they (the DWP, JCP etc.) try 'well this is the reason we class you as disabled because stress could lead to another episode' then in my opinion they will be classifying everyone as disabled, stress is a part of life who doesn't deal with stress in this world?
So for me classifying me as disabled is an insult to those who are truly disabled and to be clear I am only speaking for myself here, in no way am I saying that others who have depression/mental health issues are not disabled either, that determination in my opinion is down to the individual.
Not some faceless bureaucrat.
20th July the journey continues.