Risk and emergence of mental health problems among the differently abled: Why it matters

In most informed forums there has been a growth in the advocacy for the inclusion of mental impairment in the ambit of ‘disability’. Disability in itself is a multifaceted concept. While the WHO covers mental and intellectual impairments, along with the obvious physical and sensory disablements, in its definition of ‘disability’, terms like mental health problems, mental disorders or illnesses are used quite interchangeably.

In dealing with patients having a physical disability, I make sure that I solely address the mental or the emotional concern they come to me with. This is to make them feel secure that under no circumstances am I to assume that their mental health concern is a primary product of their disability. And even if it comes up in due course of time and discussion, the idea is to make them realize that they are differently-abled, and not dis-abled.

Having said that, though I realize the importance of therapy as an important survival strategy for people with physical disability living at a higher risk of mental illnesses, I also understand the need and involvement of technology to make vital changes in the way we deal with such cases.

I recommend that we, as a society, address specifically the emergence and risk of mental health problems amongst the physically and the sensorily disabled; with a focus on technology based rehabilitatory models and augmented reality environments for the mobilization of their highest potential and functioning.

In this respect, Act to Rise for Innovation in Special Education Impact (ARISE Impact) has been one of the key changers of the recent times. Founded by Abhishek Syal in 2010, ARISE Impact, a non-profit organization, has been successfully working towards developing self learning resources and tools for the visually challenged for half a decade. With a mission towards contributing to confidence building and better quality of life as a holistic experience, organizations like ARISE Impact make it easier for us to address mental health issues amongst the differently-abled. On that note, this World Mental health Day, we could all — collectively as a society and stakeholders of the future — endeavor to make a shift in our vision to look and explore the collaborative power of technology and the therapeutic interventions in improving lives of people living with disability.

Author Bio: Gaurav Deka is a Delhi based writer, a medical doctor and a clinical psychotherapist. His articles, interviews and columns have been published in Daily O, The Hindu Blink, Times of India, Scroll, G — Plus, Orinam.net, The Quint, Love Matters, among many others.