Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Mental health inequalities for deaf and disabled people

(Note the curious 're-arranging' of terminology later in the article?'  It headlines deaf disabled, then goes to disabled and deaf...  In reality, Mental health affects 25% of the entire population, disabled, deaf or otherwise... and with the deaf community, it can rise to 40%..  You don't have to be Prince Harry to be depressed...

Mental health inequalities for disabled and deaf people are a significant problem, according to a report published last week by the London Assembly Health Committee.

Studies have shown that disabled and deaf people are more likely to experience common mental health problems, especially anxiety and depression. Around one in three people with chronic physical impairment experience a mental health problem, compared to one in four in the wider population.

Deaf people are twice as likely to suffer from depression as hearing people, and around 40 per cent of people who lose their sight develop depression.  But there is little data available at a regional level to determine how prevalent mental ill health is among disabled and Deaf people in London.

The links between physical and sensory impairment and mental health are complex. But depression and anxiety are not the inevitable consequences of being, or becoming, a disabled person. Disability rights campaigners have raised concerns that many, including some health professionals, believe that depression and physical/sensory impairment go together unavoidably, especially when the impairment is acquired later in life. This has led to a lack of focus on the mental health needs of disabled and Deaf people and on the prevention of avoidable mental health problems.

Eight out of 10 people with a physical impairment were not born with it. The vast majority become impaired through injury, accident, or illnesses such as stroke. The prevalence of disability, therefore, rises with age. This means that mental health services need to know how to support people who become disabled later in life, as well as those who are born with impairments.

There is likely to be an increase in the number of people living with impairment in the future.  Rises in the rate of long-term conditions that can lead to disability, such as diabetes, coupled with rises in life expectancy, mean that people will be living for longer with a disability. For example, diabetes-related sight loss is the leading cause of vision impairment in working-age adults in the UK. And the number of people with diabetes has risen by 60 per cent in the UK in the last decade.10

The incidence of mental ill health in disabled and Deaf Londoners is likely to increase unless more is done to support good mental health in this population group.