Disabilities and Mental Health

Adults with disabilities report experiencing frequent mental distress almost 5 times as often as adults without disabilities. People with a physical disability or physical health problem are more likely to experience a mental health problem. In contrast, people with mental health problems are more likely to experience physical health problems.

  • More than 15 million people - 30% of the UK population - live with one or more long-term conditions, and more than 4 million of these people will also have mental health problems
  • People with long-term physical conditions are likelier to have lower well-being scores than those without.
  • People with cancer, diabetes, asthma and high blood pressure are at greater risk of a range of mental health problems such as depression, anxiety and PTSD.
  • Of people with severe symptoms of mental health problems, 37.6% also have long-term physical conditions. This compares with 25.3% of people with no or few symptoms of a mental health problem.

Above statistics provide by Mental Health Foundation

Anyone can experience a disability at some point during their lives. Disabilities can limit how a child or adult functions. These limitations may affect any of a person’s senses mobility or ability including; sight, hearing, smell, touch, taste, difficulty walking or climbing stairs; or concentrating, remembering, or making decisions.  Although “people with disabilities” sometimes refers to a single population, this is a hugely diverse group of people with a wide range of individual needs. Two people with the same type of disability can be affected in very different ways. Some disabilities may be hidden or not easy to see.

Stigma & discrimination:

Stigma and discrimination can affect people in many different ways, these can include the following:

  • Face negative attitudes from other people.
  • Experience negative life events such as abuse.

No one should have to experience discrimination or feel there is any stigma directed towards them due to disabilities; mental ill health or physical health. These attitudes and experiences can affect your mental health.

How can we deal with stigma?

Unfortunately, not everyone will understand about mental health problems, and some people could use dismissive, offensive or hurtful language and this could lead to discrimination and abuse. Behaviour of this type can be reported and you should not have to put up with it. Below are some ideas which might help:

  • Show people reliable information about your diagnosis/issue, use reliable websites such as NHS or Mind
  • Get more involved in your treatment, ask for help from a professional, get a second opinion or seek more guidance if you are unsure
  • Contact an advocate or gain advocacy, someone who can support your choices and help make your voice heard
  • Know what your rights are, legally over a wide range of situations
  • Talk about and share your experiences, this could be as part of blogs, online communities and group
  • Get involved in campaigns which help to raise awareness, and promotion of mental health

What is a learning disability?

A learning disability is a lifelong condition that affects the way you learn new things. If you have a learning disability, you may find it more difficult to: understand complicated information, learn new skills, and carry out everyday activities, like household tasks or interacting with people.  There are different causes of a learning disability. They usually happen when the brain is still developing. This could be before or during birth, or in early childhood.  It’s important that people with a learning disability get the right support. With support, most people with a learning disability in the UK can lead independent lives.

Is a learning disability a mental health problem?

A learning disability is not a mental health problem. But people with learning disabilities may also experience mental health problems. There are lots of different reasons for this.  Learning disability and other conditions.  Sometimes, people with a learning disability struggle to get a diagnosis for a mental health problem. This is because doctors may think your mental health symptoms are part of your learning disability.  People often confuse learning disability with other conditions. Some examples include:

Autism. Autism is not a learning disability, and it is not a mental health problem. Autism is a developmental disability which affects how you communicate and interact. But some autistic people may also have a learning disability. Autistic people may also experience mental health problems. Find out more about our work on mental health and autism.

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). ADHD is not a learning disability, and it is not a mental health problem. ADHD is a condition which can affect your behaviour. But some people who experience ADHD may also have a learning disability. People with ADHD may also experience mental health problems. For more information, see our page about ADHD and mental health.

It is also possible to have a diagnosis of both ADHD and autism at the same time.

Self-help coping techniques can help

To compliment professional help and support, why not give some of the below a try to see if it helps your mental wellbeing:

  • Know what to do if you are concerned about your health. Contact a health professional before you start any self-treatment
  • Know where and how to get mental health treatment and other support services and resources, including counselling or therapy (in person or through 111 or NHS choices services).
  • Take care of your emotional health. Taking care of your emotional health will help you think clearly and react to urgent needs to protect yourself and your family.
  • Take care of your body.
  • Take deep breaths, stretch, or try Mindfulness meditation
  • Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals
  • Exercise regularly
  • Get plenty of sleep
  • Avoid excessive alcohol and drug use
  • Make time to unwind.
  • Try to do some other activities you enjoy (hobbies)

Connect with others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling. During times of increased social distancing, people can still maintain social connections and care for their mental health. Phone calls or video chats can help you and your loved ones feel socially connected, less lonely, or isolated.

Connect with your community- or faith-based organizations. If face to face groups are an issue, consider connecting online, through social media, or by phone or email.

For Further Support

For further mental wellbeing support, or if you want to know more about relaxation techniques please don’t hesitate to contact us.
Darlington Mind also has a variety of other services which may be of interest to you and to assist with your need, please contact us via the following options: Email: contactus@darlingtonmind.com or Tel: 01325 283169 Mobile: 07572 888084 – see our services and support

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