While some people with disabilities face major obstacles to accessing mental health care. Also, research demonstrates that this care can enhance their general quality of life.
More than 46% of American adults received counselling, medication, or self-directed treatment for mental health issues in just 2020. Millions of people receive therapy each year, making it one of the most successful types of mental health care.
But, therapy can do more than only treat mental health issues. It can also help people cope with life’s challenges, provide them a platform for self-expression. Also, generally improve their quality of life, especially if they have a disability.
In the sections that follow, we’ll look at how regular treatment can help persons with impairments as well as some of the obstacles and things to keep in mind for handicapped people seeking mental health care.
Barriers to treatment for disabled people
When seeking mental health treatments, disabled people frequently encounter more difficulties being treated. Some of these obstacles are caused by physical or financial constraints, while others are brought on by ableism and stigma.
The following are some of the obstacles that may keep people with disabilities from receiving the assistance they require:
People with disabilities can be negatively impacted by stigma in a variety of ways, especially because stigmas associated with mental health are equally prevalent.
People with disabilities who experience social stigma may experience poorer mental health and find it more challenging to obtain the assistance they require to seek mental health therapy.
Stigma against medical professionals
People with disabilities may find it challenging to receive the degree of treatment they require to get better due to social stigmas as well as stigma from healthcare professionals. The standard of care for people with disabilities suffers when medical practitioners let their own personal views about disabilities affect how they treat patients with impairments.
It can be expensive to receive mental health care, especially if you have to pay out of pocket or don’t have insurance. Due to the fact that many disabled persons are unable to work and that those who do tend to earn less money, it may be difficult or even impossible for them to be able to afford therapeutic services.
There are more obstacles to getting access to mental health care for people with physical disabilities, and even for certain people with intellectual and mental impairments.
It might be difficult for some disabled persons to leave the house, especially if they don’t have access to transportation or accommodations. For disabled individuals who lack the equipment or expertise needed, even virtual care might be difficult.
People with disabilities may find it challenging to obtain the degree of care they require or to access mental health therapy due to all of these obstacles.
How can disabled people benefit from therapy?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that persons with impairments experience mental anguish five times more frequently than adults without disabilities. Yet studies have repeatedly demonstrated that having a disability can significantly impact one’s mental health, particularly in terms of depression and anxiety.
In particular those that come along with the experience of living with a disability, therapy can help you better understand your own thoughts, emotions, and behaviours.
To improve your emotional well-being, therapy can show you how to identify and alter the connection between those thoughts and feelings. And treatment can provide you with the abilities you need to deal with and adapt to life with a disability, whether you have a physical impairment, a mental disability, or both.
Considerations for disabled people in therapy
When you have a disability, it’s crucial that your therapist is aware of the impact it might have on your life not just physically and mentally, but also socially, professionally, and in other ways.
Researchers in the profession identified a number of areas in 2014 that are crucial for therapists to take into account while working with clients who have disabilities. Many instances include:
- respecting their knowledge of the impairment, how it affects them, and how they have experienced it
- taking careful to speak about a person’s disability while using inclusive language
- assisting in the identification and understanding of potential challenges faced by disabled people
- incorporating the individual’s strengths into the therapy’s structure
- adjusting goals and recommendations to accommodate their disabilities
The most crucial thing for you to do if you’re a therapist who deals with clients who have impairments is to keep learning about what it’s like to have that handicap and how it affects daily life.
Disability and intersectionality
In terms of oppression and discrimination, intersectionality refers to the way that a person’s different identities, such as gender, race, sexual orientation, and others, interact with one another to produce various, personal experiences.
Intersectionality is a major cause of many of the treatment-related obstacles that persons with disabilities face.
For instance, there will be more difficulties in obtaining mental health services for a disabled person who lacks health insurance due to a lack of resources. In addition, additional characteristics like gender and colour may exacerbate the prejudice and obstacles that disabled individuals must overcome in order to access services or get care.
Best psychological techniques
Many treatment modalities can be useful for people with all kinds of disabilities, including those that are physical, mental, intellectual, and others.
For instance, one of the most prevalent causes of disability in the United States is chronic pain, and numerous studies have looked into the advantages of psychotherapy for chronic pain.
According to a review, psychotherapy modalities like cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and cognitive functional therapy (CFT) can help persons with chronic pain live better overall.
These methods not only aid in a greater understanding of the disease that affects a person, but they also aid in coping mechanisms and lessen the emotional anguish that comes with having these conditions.
Moreover, therapy may even lower levels of handicap for those with mental health issues that are disabilities by easing generalised symptoms of the condition. Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), for instance, is a serious mental health problem that can seriously impair a person’s capacity to function in day-to-day life.
Exposure and response prevention (ERP) and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) have both been demonstrated to be effective psychotherapy techniques for treating OCD. Both techniques also show promise in lowering impairment and improving quality of life for OCD sufferers.
In the United States, more than 60 million individuals struggle to fully participate in daily activities because they have a disability.
Also, a variety of variables may have an impact on a person with a disability’s mental health. These issues include lack of support and knowledge about living with a disability, social and professional stigma, increased care access hurdles, and increased barriers to care.
Therapy can help if you have a handicap since it can enhance your mental health, teach you crucial coping mechanisms, and provide you the care you require to feel supported.
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