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.
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.
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