How Discrimination at Work Can Impact Your Health

Written by Nicola Wylie
Last updated October 9, 2023

Discrimination in the workplace can be an incredibly damaging situation. Unfortunately, it is more common than we realise, with many people in the U.K. facing discrimination at work. 

This discrimination is not only illegal but very impactful on the person involved and their health. Both mental and physical. The harm caused by discrimination might affect a person for years into the future. Moreover, it can prevent them from re-entering the workforce if they have left their job as a result. 

At Aspiring to Include, we believe in doing everything we can to prevent discrimination at work. We want to offer both employees and employers the information they need to create inclusive working environments where everyone knows their rights and obligations to each other. 

In this blog, we will talk about how discrimination at work can impact your health and what to do if this situation arises for you.


One of the biggest health impacts associated with discrimination at work is stress. The stress caused by discrimination is typically chronic and long-lasting, which can, in turn, manifest as secondary problems and conditions. 

Stress is very disruptive to both our physical and mental health. It can wreak havoc in our relationships and responsibilities too. Many people who are highly stressed due to discrimination at work find that this stress spills over into every other area of their life and becomes overwhelming. 

It is important that stress is dealt with early to avoid it turning into other problems, especially for your physical health. Long-term and chronic stress can turn into quite serious physical and mental health problems, such as diabetes or heart problems. 

The stress from discrimination at work arises from the situation itself but also due to the subsequent proceedings, hearings, and legal issues. Dealing with legal problems at work can be intensely stressful. The entire case can take a long time to be resolved, increasing the stress that is experienced. 


Discrimination at work can lead to anxiety. This might manifest as anxious thinking, physical anxiety symptoms, agoraphobia, social anxiety, and many other iterations. The stress and anticipation of future problems can both combine to produce an anxiety response in the victim. This often stays with them for a long time to come. 

For some people, this anxiety leads them to leave their job and feel hesitant about joining any new workplace. This can then lead to financial stress and other secondary problems. For this reason, the health problems caused by discrimination at work can be long-lasting. 

Considering this reminds us how important it is to challenge and deal with discrimination at work appropriately. As interventions increase and policies surrounding such issues are strengthened, the current and future safety of everyone involved improves.


The hopelessness that many people feel in dealing with discrimination at work leads to depression and depressive episodes. This is particularly the case when the discrimination that happens is not dealt with appropriately by the employer, HR, or the courts. Feeling deprived of the deserved justice for the mistreatment they have endured can easily lead to depression and social withdrawal.

Many people who experience depression as a result of work problems may also find themselves unemployed in the immediate future, as they do withdraw from others around them and feel no motivation to re-enter the situation that previously hurt them. This can cause people to feel stuck and, again, hopeless. 

It is for this reason that how employers and higher forces handle cases of discrimination is so critical. The right response won’t fix or undo the discrimination that has happened, but it can help the person involved heal from what has happened as they do feel a sense of justice and reparation. How people are responded to when they experience discrimination is critical in what health and personal problems arise in the aftermath. 

Physical Symptoms 

All of the issues we have discussed above can lead to physical symptoms and problems for the person involved. Stress, anxiety and depression can all lead to very real physical problems. People may experience chronic fatigue, headaches, stomach issues, strong panic attacks, nausea, more frequent sickness, and even more serious health complications as a result of dealing with such stress. 

These physical symptoms also may present a reason for people not re-entering the workforce after experiencing discrimination at work previously. This causes problems not only for the individual person but for the U.K. workforce as a whole. It costs money and creates labour gaps that would be otherwise unnecessary with the right support put into place. 

The harm of discrimination at work is impactful on both a personal and societal level. Particularly so when it is not handled appropriately by the relevant parties. When someone experiences discrimination and then feels that they have to deal with the pain of this alone without support, the harm is increased and can stick around for a long time. 

With this in mind, it is more important than ever that employers know what to do when discrimination happens in their workplace. To find out more, you can check out our guide for employers relating to rights and regulations and workplace discrimination

Find the Best Working Environment for You at Aspiring to Include

If you have experienced discrimination at work and now you want a safe, inclusive and diversity-positive job with an employer who cares, you can find it via our inclusive job board

We believe that everyone should feel they can work again after experiencing discrimination. With an employer who protects their rights and creates a safe and enjoyable atmosphere for all their members of staff. 

If this is what you are looking for, check out what we have to offer on Aspiring to Include and get in touch with any other questions. 

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Last Updated: Friday July 7 2023
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