Disability and mental health support

Within the disability community, we are seeing an increase in the number of people living with disability who also have a psychosocial illness or mental health diagnosis. This article outlines the correlation between mental health conditions and disability. It also describes how to access to a cohesive package of NDIS supports services. Accessing quality care will ensure people with a psychosocial disability receive good mental health support.

Understanding mental illness

Mental health conditions refer to various diseases and disorders affecting a person’s thoughts, emotions, and behavior. It can include a diagnosis of a condition such as:

  • depression

  • anxiety

  • bipolar disorder

  • schizophrenia

  • eating disorders

  • psychosocial disability

  • psychiatric disability

These conditions can significantly impact a person’s ability to function in their daily life and affect their relationships, work, and overall mental health and well-being.

Mental health conditions can be treated through a combination of medication, therapy, and other support services, and it’s essential to seek help if you think you or someone you know may be experiencing symptoms of a mental health condition.

The correlation between disability and mental health

Studies have consistently shown that individuals with disabilities are at a much greater risk of developing mental health issues, compared to the general population.

Statistics from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) reveal that people with a disability are twice as likely to experience depression or anxiety. Moreover, studies also indicate that this group has a higher incidence of mood disorders like depression and bipolar disorder.

Furthermore, people with disabilities are also at higher risk of developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), particularly among those who have experienced traumatic incidents leading to their disability.

Not everyone living with a disability will experience psychosocial challenges. However, some of the reasons that a disability may contribute to the development of a mental health condition include:

  • Adjusting to Disability: Whether present at birth or developing later in life, adapting to a disability can be both physically and emotionally challenging. Coping with mobility, independence, and self-esteem changes can lead to frustration and unhappiness.

  • Feeling Alone: Individuals with disabilities may find it challenging to socialise and participate in various activities, which can cause feelings of loneliness and despair.

  • Discrimination and stigma: People with disabilities often feel judged or stigmatised because of their disability.

  • Limited Access to Healthcare: People with disabilities may struggle to obtain proper mental health treatment and assistance through Medicare, which can exacerbate their mental health problems.

  • Concerns about finances: Managing a disability often means additional expenses for medical care, specialised equipment, and therapies, leading to stress and worry about money.

  • Physical Pain: Physical pain associated with certain disabilities might contribute to mental health issues. For example, cronic pain is frequently linked with disorders like depression and anxiety.

  • Exclusion: Being excluded from different aspects of life, including education, the workforce, and recreational activities, can cause someone to feel like they don’t belong and impact their self-esteem.

Mental health and the NDIS

The inclusion of mental health as a disability in the NDIS recovery framework is a significant step towards a more comprehensive and supportive approach to mental health treatment. This approach ensures that everyone has access to the help they need to improve their wellbeing and quality of life. The NDIS supports people with mental health disorders thanks to this inclusive approach.

This help covers a range of aspects of their lives, including treatment, supports, counselling, medication, social services and help with daily tasks.

NDIS and mental health and wellbeing statistics

According to the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA), in 2019-20, mental health conditions were the most common primary disability of NDIS participants aged 25-34 years old, accounting for approximately 26% of all participants in that age group.

According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, as at 31 December 2021, people with a psychosocial disability as their primary disability formed the third largest primary disability group among NDIS participants (11%), after autism (33%) and intellectual disability (19%). At this time, 53,123 people with a primary psychosocial disability were active participants with an approved NDIS plan.

Mental health services

In cases where there is a diagnosis of a psychosocial disability, there are many options for assistance and NDIS supports. These supports can include:

  • Support groups: These are groups of people who share similar mental health experiences and provide each other with emotional support, practical advice, and guidance.

  • Community mental health services: These are government-funded services that provide mental health assessments, treatment, and ongoing support to people. Services may include counselling, therapy, and medication management.

  • Peer support workers: These are people with lived experience of mental health conditions who provide support, encouragement, and practical assistance to others with mental illness.

  • Housing and accommodation supports: There are various housing and accommodation options available for people with mental health conditions, including supported accommodation, transitional housing, and community housing.

  • Employment services: There are agencies that provide employment services specifically for people with mental health conditions. These services may include job coaching, workforce preparation and training, and support in finding and maintaining employment.

Inclusion and participation support services

People in Australia who have severe mental illness or psychosocial disabilities may find that these conditions affect their relationships, social inclusion, ability to find suitable housing and jobs, and their physical health.

Disability support services play a crucial role in helping a person with a psychosocial disability overcome functional limitations such as communication, daily living, and self-care, and enable them to participate fully and equally in their communities.

If the person comes from another marginalised community, such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, women, families with infants and young children, migrants, or the LGBTQIA+ community, they may have to deal with their own additional set of challenges.

The carers and families of people with psychosocial disability also face their own challenges, including a tendency to neglect their own needs.

National disability insurance scheme for people living with a psychosocial disability

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) provides support for people with mental health conditions. The NDIS recognises that mental health can have a significant impact on a person’s ability to carry out daily activities and build connections in the community.

As such, the scheme provides funding for a range of services and supports, including psychological therapy, support coordination, and assistance with daily living tasks.

To be eligible for NDIS supports, a person with a mental health condition must meet the scheme’s access requirements and demonstrate that their condition has a significant impact on their daily life.

NDIS eligibility for disability and mental illness

To be eligible for support under the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) for a mental health conditon, you must meet the following criteria:

  • You must have a permanent and significant disability that affects your ability to perform everyday activities.

  • Your disability must be attributable to a mental health condition that is diagnosed by a qualified health professional, such as a psychiatrist, psychologist or general practitioner.

  • Your condition must be likely to be permanent, which means that it is not expected to improve with treatment.

Your condition must significantly impact your ability to perform daily activities, such as self-care, mobility, communication or social interaction. If you meet these criteria, you may be eligible for funding for a range of services and supports, including psychological therapy, support coordination, and assistance with daily living tasks.

It’s important to note that eligibility for the NDIS is assessed on a case-by-case basis, so it’s best to speak to a professional or contact the NDIS directly to determine your eligibility.

Employment options for people living with mental health conditions

As a result of research by the Productivity Commission, the Australian Government and state and territory governments are all working to improve economic participation options for people with mental health issues.

Employment and economic participation options available for people with mental health conditions will depend on their individual needs and circumstances. There are several employment options available for people with mental health conditions, including:

  • Supported jobs: This involves working in a job with ongoing support from a job coach or job specialist. The support provided can include help with job training, accommodations, and ongoing support to ensure success in the workplace.

  • Self employment: Some people with mental health conditions may choose to start their own business or work as a freelancer. This can provide greater flexibility and control over their work environment and schedule.

  • Volunteering: Volunteering can provide valuable work experience, help build skills, and provide a sense of purpose. It can also be a stepping stone to paid roles for young people.

  • Part-Time Work: Part-time work can be a good option for people with mental health conditions who may not be ready or able to work full-time. It can provide structure and routine while allowing for time to manage symptoms and attend appointments.

If you are looking for job options as an NDIS participant, it’s a good idea to talk with a qualified job specialist or vocational rehabilitation counselor to explore options and find the right fit.

Nursed Care for social and community participation support

Nursed Care is a community services and disability support service provider in Paramatta. We are an accredited NDIS support agency and support people with disability and mental health conditions to engage fully in the community.

Just some of the services we provide for NDIS participants include:

  • access to education

  • employer introductions and support

  • skill development to cope with change

  • community participation and social life activities

  • physical exercise or outings into nature

  • mental health and wellbeing support services

  • personal care

  • services that assist with activities of daily life

  • access to health care through transport to medical appointments

An example of a great outcome we have delivered is supporting a psychosocial disability client who was feeling anxious about using public transport to attend a music festival by bus. Our caring worker guided the client to assist them buying a ticket and using a map to arrive safely at their chosen social activities. Contact us for further information about

Related Questions

If you are an NDIS participant and and have concerns about your psychosocial health and wellbeing, you can always raise this with your support worker, or local area coordinator. If you have a diagnosed psychosocial disability, you may be eligible for specific supports through your NDIS plan.

There are also several other organisations in Australia that help people manage their mental health. These include:

You can contact any of these agencies at no cost, if you need to find someone to talk to.

Need qualified care?

At Nursed, we offer a full range of care and disability support services, assisting you to live the life you want to live. Contact us today.

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