It has been proven repeatedly that our physical health has a great effect on our mental health. No, I am not just talking about the back pains or the headaches. I mean, even physical disabilities can have a great effect on a person’s mental health. If we look into it, a study has shown that people with disabilities actually have a doubled risk of developing a mental illness compared to those who do not have a physical disability.
Living with a physical disability can present itself as a challenge; however, when a person with a disability experiences mental illness, it can cause an even bigger impact on the person going through all these disabilities at once. Physical disabilities have become a common thing in our society. Some people have been born with it, and some people go through a traumatic accident or event, causing them the disability.
Physical disabilities have become such a common thing that one in five people actually have a physical or intellectual disability in Australia. Even more, to think about, every thirteen hours, a child is born with cerebral palsy, and in a week, there are ten to fifteen people who sustain a severe brain injury. To think, all these numbers and statistics are just from Australia alone. We would be here for days if we talked about world statistics, but if you can, do your own research on all this and gain a better understanding. It is always better to be educated than ignorant.
So, the question remains. What do people with disabilities go through when their mental health is also fading? In a survey from the United Kingdom, it has been shown that people living with disabilities feel lonely every day. Being restricted due to disability can cause you to feel isolated and anxious. To put it into perspective, let us say that you are a person who uses a wheelchair due to your disability, and you are invited to a social event. You know you have to consider a million things before you decide on going to this event. Things like how do you get there? Is the venue accessible? Will I need assistance? And that list of questions goes on.
Understandably, you would feel frustrated at the circumstance. So if we move on to another situation such as discrimination against people with disabilities, this also shows that these people do have a reason to feel anxious, depressed, or frustrated. Their emotions are justified and valid, like anyone else.
Of course, there is also such a thing as an acquired disability. When we say an acquired disability, these are the disabilities that have been caused by traumatic events or diseases. If you know of the five stages of grief well, researchers have discovered eight common stages of coming to terms with acquired disabilities. These stages are shock, anxiety, denial, depression, internalized anger, externalized anger, acknowledgment, and finally, adjustment. So you see, it takes a lot mentally for a person to come to terms with having a permanent disability finally.
As I always say, if you need help, then you should reach out to the people who you trust and ask for the help you need. Sadly, unlike people who do not have disabilities, the people who do have disabilities struggle to seek the mental health assistance they need. There are many horror stories online about how people with disabilities have been treated when they had been seeking mental health assistance. You can look them all up, and they are all sadly very true, but due to these experiences, a movement was created.
This movement is known as Live On. It is a disability-led movement that is web-based. The movement aims to reach out to people with disabilities and tackle misconceptions and myths by showing them that they, too, can live happy and meaningful lives. If you want to connect with the movement, you can, of course, find them on social media for any help that you may need or for just general education on the matter.
There are also hotlines that you can call or websites you can visit that are available to you 24/7. In some countries such as Australia, there is something called Disability Services. The purpose of this is to support people with disabilities to develop skills and capabilities which they may need for them to be able to participate in society and for them to also contribute to the economy.
Much like everyone else, people with disabilities deserve help when they need it, especially during dark and difficult times. So, reach out. Suppose the hospitals would not help you, then a loved one for sure will. Always remember that you are not alone in this, and there will always be someone out there who is willing to listen.