Mental illnesses “can also be called psychiatric disorders (Canadian Mental Health Association, 2010).” “Mental illnesses are characterized by alterations in thinking, mood, or behaviour associated with significant distress and impaired functioning (Public Health Agency of Canada, 2009).” “A physical disability is any condition that permanently prevents normal body movement and/or control (Parenting and Child Health, 2009).”
There are a variety of mental and physical disabilities, and we all can name at least a few for each. For mental disabilities, we know there are disorders like anxiety, depression, and schizophrenia. As for physical disabilities, we know that one can be paralyzed, be in a wheelchair, have a spinal cord injury, or have arthritis. Mental illnesses and physical disabilities go hand in hand. “People living with a serious mental illness are at higher risk of experiencing a wide range of chronic physical conditions. Conversely, people living with chronic physical health conditions experience depression and anxiety at twice the rate of the general population (Canadian Mental Health Association, 2008).”
By reading the article, The Relationship between Mental Health, Mental Illness and Chronic Physical Conditions I have learned more about the link between physical and mental disabilities. The article summarizes that people living with a mental illness and a physical disability contribute to high economic costs as they have to miss out on a lot of work, and use large amounts of health services. People living with mental illnesses experience a variety of physical symptoms from the illness they have and from the treatments they must go through. According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, mental illnesses can alter hormonal balances and sleep cycles. Many psychiatric medications have side-effects ranging from weight gain to irregular heart rhythms. Mental illnesses can cause poor physical health; they can affect social and cognitive behaviour, and decrease the body’s energy level. The article also states that some chronic physical disabilities can increase the body’s blood sugar levels and disrupt the circulation of blood; which can impact brain functioning. Therefore, it could lead to a mental illness. It is very likely for physical conditions, such as arthritis, obesity, and diabetes to lead to anxiety disorders and depression. While reading the article I also learned that people with serious mental illnesses often have increased blood pressure and high levels of stress hormones and adrenaline. These are known to increase one’s heart rate. Increased heart rate can lead to cardiovascular problems, causing heart attacks and/or strokes. Unfortunately, strokes can lead to one being paralyzed, which the person would then have a mental disability and a physical disability.
Mental disabilities can be caused by physical disabilities, as physical disabilities can be caused by mental disabilities. The Canadian Mental Association provides shocking statistics: Canadians who report symptoms of depression also report experiencing three times as many chronic physical conditions as the general population and Canadians with chronic physical conditions have twice the likelihood of also experiencing a mood or anxiety disorder when compared to those without a chronic physical condition. These statistics allow us to realize that there are many unfortunate people in our society that need help.
Although there are many great programs and health services available to those with disabilities, not all of the programs are available at all times. If there were more of a variety of programs, with extended hours, individuals with disabilities could receive the adequate help they need, and when they need it. Individuals with physical and mental disabilities need to be able to access health services and programs at any time and for as long as they need too. With access to more programs, and longer hours individuals with disabilities would be able to function better mentally and physically. They would also be happier and healthier. If people suffering from both mental and physical disabilities were getting the proper help they need, they would live longer, especially with friends, family, and society supporting them. People who suffer from both physical and mental disabilities are often at times discriminated at and not treated as equals in society. Also, I think it would be beneficial to those who are at a disadvantage in life if we viewed society as reform liberals do. “Equality to reform liberal means equal opportunity (Mullaly, 2007, 92).” If individuals with both physical and mental disabilities were treated as equals, and they received equal opportunity in receiving the help they need, and for example, when applying for jobs, then not only would individuals who have disabilities benefit, but society as a whole would too.
Canadian Mental Health Association. (2010). Understanding Mental Illness. Retrieved November 23,
2010, from http://www.cmha.ca/bins/content_page.asp?cid=3
Public Health Agency of Canada. (2009, April 23). Mental Illness. Retrieved November 23, 2010, from
Parenting and Child Health. (2009, May 15). Physical Disability. Retrieved November 23, 2010, from
Canadian Mental Health Association. (2008, December). The Relationship between Mental Health, Mental
Illness and Chronic Physical Conditions. Retrieved November 23, 2010, from
Mullaly, B. (2007). The New Structural Social Work (3rd ed.). Canada: Oxford University Press.