Health Conditions/Diseases

Disabilities: A Category that Includes Mental illness, Dementia, Learning Disabilities+

Did you know that the World Health Organization reports that between four hundred million and five hundred million people are affected by a disability? Autism, learning disabilities, mental health issues and dementia fall into the disability category. If you look around and think of colleagues, friends, family and clients, at least one, most likely more, fall into the category of having a disability. Mental Illness is the leading cause of disability with Depression listed as the 3rd cause of disability in the world.

Imagine two individuals going to the hospital for chest pain, shortness of breathe, both are male and approximately age 50. Do they both receive the same attention, the same treatment? According to Vikram Patel, psychiatrist-the answer is no. One is recommended special tests and the other is sent home. Why? The one sent home has a mental health issue.

“If you should speak to anyone affected by a mental illness, the chances are that you will hear stories of hidden suffering, shame, and discrimination in nearly every sector of their lives.” (Vikram Patel)

How do we advocate for those with mental health issues? What is the best way to give treatment? Where should the treatment occur? In a hospital? Local community clinic? At home? Do services exist in every country for those with mental health issues-the answer is no.

Watch the attached video and a few ideas will emerge as to ways to address mental health issues and disabilities, whether in a city, town, remote village in Africa, or a rural village in India.

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*Written by Victoria Brewster, MSW

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