Social Stigmas

Social Stigmas And Public Ignorance of Psychological Disabilities

Most people are aware of physical disabilities, however, what the public at large is not so aware of are psychological disabilities, but they too exist to the extent that the expertise of disability psychologists at is required to help treat those affected.

It might serve us better if we define exactly what psychological disability is. For a start, it is not one single condition but instead is a whole range of mental conditions and disorders relating to behaviours and emotions, and well as cognitive functions.

It should be noted for a psychological condition to be classed as a disability the extent to which that conditions negatively impacts a person in multiple areas of their life including health, relationships, learning, ability to work, and even with regards to their legal status needs to be significant. Obviously, the more areas which are affected, the greater the degree of disability.

Specific examples of conditions that a disability psychologist will help their clients with include bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, personality disorder and eating disorders, although there are lots more.

Many people, when they hear the list of conditions that qualify as psychological disabilities are likely to have heard about those individual conditions but have never thought of nor classified them as disabilities. Most think that for something to be a disability that it must be something that you can see, or that has to impede the person with the disability in some physical way.

The reason for this ignorance in many cases is a societal one, rather than any individual bias, although there are those whose closed minds will never understand that a mental disability or illness can be every bit as debilitating and traumatic to its victim, than a physical one.

Sadly, attitudes towards psychological disabilities have a long way to go before mental and physical disabilities are seen equally as deserving of care and understanding. In fact, much of the ignorance surrounding mental health and psychological disabilities is at even more unacceptable levels, where individuals are actually stigmatised because of their condition.

The degree to which they are stigmatised, socially excluded, or worse, discriminated against will vary from individual to individual but there are some common ways in which it occurs. These are often relayed to their disability psychologist during a consultation, and some of the examples will shock you.

Those with mental health often find themselves at the back of the queue for many of their basic needs that the rest of us take for granted, and if their condition worsens to the point of being a psychological disability, the problems run even deeper

This can include lack of housing to the point of homelessness, poorer job prospects, and even those in work find that their level of income does not compare favourably with those in similar roles.

Whether circumstances like these are created deliberately or merely through ignorance and a lack of understanding of psychological disabilities, neither should be acceptable in modern society. That an entire group of people, namely those with psychological disabilities are being marginalised, are living in poverty and have to deal with social exclusion and discrimination is shameful on any level.

A glimmer of light is that awareness of mental health and is increasing, and more importantly, a better understanding that disabilities exist that may not always be physical, including psychological ones. Hopefully, as a result of these, disability psychologists will hear more from their clients about how they are progressing, rather than stories of the ignorance of others.