Gillian Daley/ Staff Writer
While we often think of things like limited mobility, blindness or deafness when we think of disabilities, there are a lot of people who aren’t necessarily included in the conversation about disabilities.
Naturally, human beings tend to focus more on things that we can feel, touch and perceive in a tangible way.
This tendency can oftentimes become harmful, especially when we slip into the habit of doing this with the problems and the issues surrounding people with disabilities.
So often physical disabilities dominate the mainstream perception of what disabilities are, but obviously, they’re not the only type of disability that needs to be addressed in this conversation.
The intangibility of mental disorders and disabilities can make it difficult for those unaffected to sympathize with those who are affected. The inability to visually see “what’s wrong” makes it harder for people to start, firstly, caring at all, and secondly, doing something.
This makes it harder for these issues to ever be brought to the forefront of the conversation so that those suffering from mental disabilities can have their voices heard and their issues addressed.
How do we take active steps towards doing this?
Well, firstly, we have an obligation to go out of our way to make sure that people affected by mental disorders are humanized and remain humanized throughout the entirety of any discussion involving mental health issues.
It’s so common for the issues of those with mental disorders or disabilities to be marginalized and alienated.
It’s important to remember that people suffering from mental health issues are still, unequivocally, people.
Conversations about the needs of those with health issues should never be sensationalized and those being discussed should never be divorced from their humanity simply because they are suffering.
Putting this kind of negative attention on the issue certainly won’t do any good and in many cases, will only serve to worsen the problem by compounding it with stress about conforming to social norms.
In some cases, adding such a huge stigma to mental disorders and disabilities will make it harder for people to look at therapy as an option.
Also, no one likes to be ignored.
Often times, when mental disabilities and mental disorders are not being conflated with something sinister, they are simply cast aside altogether.
They’re either sensationalized or ignored, with very rare instances of practical, humanizing conversations about how to make life more functional for those suffering in between.
It’s critical for people who aren’t suffering to remember simple concepts about mental disorders.
For example, they can’t be fixed by pretending they’re not there.
There are countless cases of parents or caretakers insisting their child is simply misbehaved, whilst ignoring clear warning signs of ADHD.
A lot of times the mental well-being of an individual is left on the backburner because, physically, they appear to be healthy and high-functioning.
When you simply box away problems like mental disorders and disabilities in the desperate hope that not addressing them will simply make them go away, you’re doing the most damaging thing you could possibly do.
This is true on an individual level but it is also true on a larger scale for the community of people with mental disabilities as a whole.
Taking into account that mental disabilities aren’t monolithic, those who suffer from a wide array of backgrounds and the disabilities they have can be vastly complex and dissimilar to one another.
Understanding the intricacies of this community is key to opening up a dialogue and beginning the conversation about how we as individuals, students and members of a community can be more inclusive for people with both physical and mental disabilities.
The opinions presented within this page do not represent the views of PantherNOW Editorial Board. These views are separate from editorials and reflect individual perspectives of contributing writers and/or members of the University community.
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