October 24, 2020

The Editor speaks: Disability

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Colin Wilsonweb2Thursday (3) was International day of persons with disabilities”.

In the address from Cayman Islands premier, Alden McLaughlin, on this Day he said, “It is important to note that all of us either are or will become disabled to one degree or another during the course of our lives”.

Sobering thought that, isn’t it?

We will all suffer some form of disability throughout our lives. Especially as we age. I know. I have watched loved ones and friends grow older and disabilities that may or may not have been there before become very visible.

When we don’t experience it do we bless and thank God we have no disability?

What are your feelings when you first see someone with some obvious disability?

What is your fist reaction when you see someone in a wheelchair.

The fact that persons with disability don’t fit high up on our list of “we must help” just watch how many persons park their vehicles in spaces reserved for persons with disabilities.

Even worse is the stigma and discrimination that persons with disability have to suffer. The jokes that go the rounds poking fun at persons with noticeable disabilities like the physical shaking.

Donald Trump was guilty of it and then tried to pass it off by saying he didn’t know the reporter he was mimicking suffered from a disease that made his hands shake. People laughed at his imitation.

And mental illness is the number one disability that faces the most discrimination.

A dear friend of mind suffered from Huntington’s Disease and after having some experimental treatment to stop it getting worse she was rendered almost dumb. But the disease went into remission.

However, because when she tried to speak, she gave forms of grunts and her hands shook persons thought she was mad and the majority walked away quickly. She hated going out on her own and soon became a recluse.

And the stigma that persons with disability face?

From Time to Change website:

Stigma isolates people. People often find it hard to tell others about a mental health problem they have, because they fear a negative reaction. And when they do speak up, the overwhelming majority say they are misunderstood by family members, shunned and ignored by friends, work colleagues and neighbours.

Stigma excludes people from day-to-day activities. Everyday activities like going shopping, going to the pub, going on holiday or joining a club are far harder for people with mental health problems. What’s more, about a quarter of people with a mental illness have been refused by insurance or finance companies, making it hard to travel, own property or run a business.

Stigma stops people getting and keeping jobs. People with mental health problems have the highest ‘want to work’ rate of any disability group – but have the lowest in-work rate. One third report having been dismissed or forced to resign from their job and 70% have been put off applying for jobs, fearing unfair treatment.

Stigma prevents people seeking help. We know that when people first experience a mental health problem they tend not to seek help early and tend to come into contact with mental health services only when a crisis has developed.

Stigma has a negative impact on physical health. We know that people with mental health problems tend to have poorer than average physical health and their physical health problems are often misdiagnosed. As a result, people with the most severe mental health problems die on average ten years younger.
How widespread is stigma?

Despite attitudes about sexuality, ethnicity and other similar issues improving, and despite some improvements since the launch of Time to Change, discrimination against people with mental health problems is still widespread.

The Stigma Shout survey that we carried out at the beginning of Time to Change showed that almost nine out of ten people with mental health problems (87%) reported the negative impact of stigma and discrimination on their lives.

The research also showed that the way family, friends, neighbours and colleagues behave can have a big impact on the lives of people with mental health problems.

SOURCE: http://www.time-to-change.org.uk/what-are-mental-health-problems/stigma-discrimination/impact

The same website says:

You can help us create a society where mental health problems are not hidden in shame and secrecy. You can ensure your friend or relative is not afraid to speak out about their problems, or is left wondering where they can turn for help.

Make a pledge to challenge mental health stigma and discrimination.
Find out about the small things you can do to support someone with a mental health problem.
Find out how as an individual you can take action and support Time to Change.
Find out how your organisation or workplace might get involved.

END

Good practical advice. Let’s start now.

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