Skip to main content

Information disclosure and confidentiality

When you apply for a place at Birkbeck, you will be asked to disclose information about your condition, so we can provide you with appropriate help and support during your studies. 

All information disclosed within the Wellbeing Service (comprising the Counselling, Mental Health and Disability and Dyslexia services) is dealt with securely, in line with our confidentiality policy. The information below summarises information disclosure, how we handle your information in line with policies and regulations, and our approach to confidentiality. 

Please note: the Counselling Service operates under the ethical framework of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy and has its own confidentiality policy. The Counselling Service confidentiality policy is separate from the confidentiality policy that the College operates in relation to reasonable adjustments for a disability or mental health condition described below.

Disclosing your information

Disclosing your condition to your Admissions Tutor and the Wellbeing Service will allow for the relevant support to be made available to you. Your information will be treated sensitively and in strict confidence.

How much do I need to disclose?

  • To enable us to provide you with the most appropriate support, we need the following information:
    • the health difficulties you're currently experiencing, or the condition you have
    • how your health difficulties or condition are affecting your studies, and how long you have been experiencing this for 
    • what your current diagnosis is, and whether you are receiving any treatment (for a mental health condition, for example)
    • whether you're currently receiving guidance, support or treatment from a specialist. 

Benefits of disclosing your condition

  • Disclosing your mental health condition or disability early on enables others to be mindful of your needs and gives you the chance to get the right support. This includes study support (such as a note-taker), financial support, and referrals within the Wellbeing Service. 

Who needs to know about your condition?

  • To provide you with appropriate support, we need to be aware of your condition.
  • We will also need to share information with other members of College staff, which can vary depending upon the nature of your condition or the kind of support we might put in place.
  • You do not need to disclose your condition or need for support to your classmates unless you wish to. 
  • The Higher Education Statistical Agency (HESA) will ask you for the category of your disability for statistical purposes. This is done anonymously. 

Confidentiality

Our commitment to confidentiality

  • Maintaining trust and privacy of personal information is a legitimate expectation of all service users and is something that we treat very seriously. 

Exceptions

  • In rare circumstances, confidentiality may need to be breached. This can occur when a practitioner or staff member:
    • believes that a client poses a serious risk of harm to themselves, or someone else
    • is made aware of terrorist activities
    • is made aware of a child who is being abused or is at risk of abuse
    • is summoned to give evidence at a court hearing. 
  • While we have a duty of care for all students, there are some legal restrictions on the confidentiality that can be offered by us. The following laws limit the extent which confidentiality can be maintained:

Legal adherence

Personal information and the Data Protection Act

  • All information provided to us is considered sensitive under the Data Protection Act 1998 and will remain strictly confidential. The only exceptions to this are detailed above.
  • During counselling sessions, notes will be taken and kept securely in accordance with the Data Protection Act. These will only be accessed when there is a clinical or administrative need to do so. You have the right to view any personal information that is stored and can request to view it privately.