While there are significant barriers to receiving mental health care for some people with disabilities,
research also shows that this care can improve their overall quality of life.
In 2020 alone, more than 46% of adults in the United States received some sort of mental health treatment, whether therapy, medication, or self-led treatment.Therapy is one of the most effective forms of mental health treatment, and millions of people receive therapy every single year.
But therapy does more than just treat mental health conditions ― it can also help build coping skills,
provide a space for self-expression, and improve overall quality of life, especially for people living with disabilities.
Ahead, we’ll explore how people with disabilities can benefit from regular therapy, as well as touch on some of the barriers and considerations for disabled people seeking mental health services.
Disabled people often experience increased barriers to treatment when seeking out mental health services. Some of these barriers come from things like physical or financial limitations, while others arise from things like ableism and stigma.
Here are some of the barriers that can prevent people with disabilities from getting the help they need:
Stigma can affect disabled people in many ways, especially because there’s not only a stigma around disabilities, but there’s also a stigma around mental health.
Social stigma can negatively affect the mental health of people living with disabilities and make it difficult for them to get the support they need to seek mental health treatment.
Healthcare professional stigma
In addition to social stigmas, healthcare professional stigma can make it hard for people with disabilities to receive the level of care they need to get better. When healthcare professionals allow their personal beliefs about disabilities to influence the care that they provide disabled people, it decreases the quality of care.
Mental health treatment can be expensive, especially for people who have to pay out of pocket or don’t have access to insurance. Many disabled people are unable to work, and those who do work generally earn less, which can make it difficult ― or even impossible ― to be able to afford therapy services.
People with physical disabilities, and even some with mental and intellectual disabilities, face increased barriers to accessing mental health care.
For some disabled people, it can be a challenge to leave the house, especially if they don’t have access to transportation or accommodations. And even virtual care can be challenging for disabled people who don’t have the tools or skills necessary for it.
All of these barriers can make it difficult for disabled people to access to mental health treatment or receive the level of care they need.