Today, Inclusion Scotland, a national disabled people’s organisation, published evidence of the mental health implications of lockdown for disabled Scots, who make up one fifth of the population.
According to the charity, their survey of over 800 people from across the whole of Scotland shows that stress, fear and anxiety are widespread for disabled people in the wake of the virus and the response to it.
Whilst the charity accepts that anxiety about the future is common in the current situation they say disabled people, some with pre-existing mental health problems, are at ‘breaking point’. 15 people told the charity via an anonymous survey that they were ‘suicidal’ and hundreds of others have said they were being ‘pushed to the brink’.
Parents say that their disabled children are exhibiting signs of distress in lockdown such as self-harm or violent outbursts, because of the disruption to their lives. One single parent of two disabled children described ‘screaming into her pillow’ every night because her situation at home had become so ‘frightening and intolerable. My child is hurting herself hourly and there is no support for her’.
Whilst the Scottish Government has provided emergency investment to Local Authorities to maintain care and support for disabled people and has stated clearly that social care support should not be removed from disabled people during this crisis, almost half of those who responded (48%) on this issue told the charity that their support had either stopped completely or had been reduced, leaving some individuals bedbound, unable to wash or feed themselves, or suddenly reliant on family carers, without training or support. This is causing extreme anxiety and feelings of abandonment.
To make matters worse, and again despite assurances from Scottish Government officals, headline findings from the survey, which did not ask a specific question in this area, showed disabled people are still very worried about being pressurised to sign Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) notices and the possibility that they will be denied treatment because of their impairments should they contract Covid-19 and have to go to hospital. Worries guaranteed to play on people’s minds in lockdown:
As Dr Sally Witcher, CEO of Inclusion Scotland explains:
“It is an anxious and stressful time for everyone in Scotland, but our evidence shows that too many disabled Scots in lockdown are facing a mental health emergency. We know that there have been Scottish Government announcements of actions that aim to address some of the issues that are causing disabled people additional stress and anxiety, but what is happening, in the cases that we are hearing, tells us that this is not always translating into reality for disabled people on the ground, at a time when so many services, including those offering mental health support, are least able to provide help.’
For further information contact: Heather Fisken, Head of Policy and Research, email@example.com (e-mail preferred, deafened) 0131 370 6700/ to contact via SMS text only 07531 045883