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It is generally recognised that work and the development of industry-ready employment skills are good for health and wellbeing. However, a work opportunity may also mean overcoming obstacles, negotiating barriers of accessibility, being faced with excessive expectations and dealing with challenging colleagues.
The cause of workplace stress, anxiety or depression may also not actually be work-related. Difficulties such as bereavement, finance, relationship breakdown, family issues and many other factors may be the cause of problems.
When it comes to keeping well in the workplace we should all be aware of our rights as an employee, what level of support we can expect from our employers and what networks of support are available outside the workplace.
Employers and placement providers can have an important role in supporting you to access and undertake work opportunities. Ravensbourne also supports current students on placement by utilising our resources where appropriate, for example, through our Industry Liaisons and through Ravensbourne’s counselling services.
Employers have a duty under the Equality Act (2010) to provide reasonable adjustments to help you access the workplace. If you have a neurodiversity such as dyslexia, a mental health experience such as depression, or a physical health condition such as epilepsy you can consider disclosing this to your employer or placement provider. Employers have a responsibility to ask prospective staff of any support needs with the focus being on supporting the individual.
If you are undertaking a placement you can also access internal Ravensbourne support or government funded Disabled Students Allowance (DSA). DSA gives those eligible access to specialist tuition for academic use and assistive software that could be used during your placement. People leaving Ravensbourne may also be entitled to use the Access to Work initiative.
Ultimately it is your choice whether to disclose your support need to an employer. In line with the Equality Act, employers have a duty to provide reasonable adjustments and to not discriminate based on disability.
It may be in your interest to let the employer know, as adjustments could include adaptations to the environment, flexibility with working hours, using equipment to enable you in the role, or moving you to less physically demanding work where appropriate.
There may be instances where not informing an employer could be problematic, for instance, if medical information is a mandatory condition of employment due to the nature of the role. In the majority of cases disclosure will not be mandatory and you can think about whether you want to disclose. See this article from NHS choices for more information.
If your employer does not deem the reasonable adjustments to be possible you may want to consider the Access to Work scheme.
The scheme covers paid employment only and may entitle you to support such as British Sign Language interpreters, adaptations to equipment, or a job coach. Most reasonable adjustments will be covered by the employer in the first instance and this fund is for extra help. Access to Work grants will not affect any other benefits.
Placements are not covered by Access to Work however you can still expect your employer to make reasonable adjustments and communicate with student services for further advice.
If you would like more information about any of this or to discuss individual circumstances please get in touch with Student Services at [email protected]
Ravensbourne’s Self-Employment Entrepreneurship Diversity Scheme (SEEDS) develops diversity talent within the creative industries through mentoring, freelancing and business development support.
For some useful links have a look at the directory we have compiled to help you find the support you may need when transitioning from University to work. We also have some examples of case studies designed to highlight the support you can get through a work space regarding mental health and disability.
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