This World Disability Day, the focus is on unseen disabilities, especially the mental health of people with disability. According to experts, more awareness is needed both within the community and outside.
“Unseen disabilities like intellectual disabilities, which includes cerebral palsy, epilepsy, and autism, have shown instances of anxiety, depression and ADHD. These disabilities did not have a physical depicter such as a wheelchair, so many feel that the disability is only temporary or does not exist. During the pandemic, many people have recognised their disability, but unfortunately, many have brushed it away or felt irritation owing to their lack of productivity,” said psychiatrist Dr Ennapadam S Krishnamoorthy, founder of Buddhi Clinic.
During the shutdown, many people have not had access to their healthcare providers. This has worsened their physical health, which had affected their mental health, and in turn, their productivity and motivation. According to T Thiruselvi, a mental health professional working with the NGO The Banyan, the lack of movement prompted from the shutdown has created feelings of isolation within members of the community.
“We have seen increased cases of depression and even some instances of self-harm. The issue right now is the lack of awareness for people with disability in the districts. As they already have a disability, they face discrimination and fear seeking help due to the stigma associated with that. Many of them don’t even know they suffer from mental health issues,” she said.
In Chennai, while access to resources is better, according to Dr Krishnamoorthy, districts remain distanced from these resources. Empathy from family and better access to mental health resources is key.