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HMRC internal manual

Compliance Operational Guidance

Our Conduct and Behaviour: customer service to disabled people: common mental health issues

Mental health issues will be covered by the Equality Act 2010 if the impairment has a substantial and long term adverse effect on the person’s ability to carry out normal day to day activities.

Many people with mental health issues are able to manage their condition and minimise its effect on their lives. However, a mental health problem may affect a person’s thinking, emotional state and behaviour, and disrupt their ability to work, carry on their usual personal relationships and everyday life.

The most frequently occurring mental health issues are:

  • depression - a long lasting, low mood that interferes with the ability to function or take an interest in things
  • anxiety - where normal feelings of concern, worry and fear are intensified to a debilitating level and can bring on physical symptoms such as heart palpitations and pain.

Other conditions you may encounter include:

  • panic disorder - defined as a sudden episode of intense fear or discomfort with physical symptoms such as nausea, chest pains, unbearable fear and shortness of breath
  • obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) - the individual is usually aware of their obsessive behaviour being excessive or unreasonable but nonetheless being so pervasive as to interfere with the ability to function
  • bipolar affective disorder - a severe mood disorder characterised by extreme highs and lows with normal moods in between
  • schizophrenia - symptoms can include disordered thoughts, difficulty in concentrating and following instructions, delusions, hallucinations, apathy and poor social functioning
  • dementia - a degenerative disorder increasingly affecting a person’s ability to function until they become entirely dependent on others
  • post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) - often linked to military or emergency services but defined as any event resulting in a person being adversely affected by what they have experienced. People can suffer flashbacks, panic attacks and other acute symptoms.

The above list is not intended to be exhaustive and you may well encounter people with other types of mental impairment.

You must always concentrate on how a mental health issue affects the person’s ability to deal with their tax affairs and not on the fact that a condition may exist.