Psychosocial disabilities

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Psychosocial disability refers to a psychological and social condition that may arise from a severe mental health issue. 

Key points: 

  • Without adequate support, psychosocial disability can negatively impact mental health conditions
  • Once diagnosed, people with a psychosocial disability can undergo a range of treatments
  • Not all mental health conditions are considered as a disability under the NDIS

What are psychosocial disabilities?

Psychosocial disability can arise when someone with a mental health condition, such as depression, interacts with a social environment that presents barriers to them that others do not experience.

A psychosocial disability may restrict a person’s ability to:

  • Be in certain types of environments
  • Concentrate
  • Have enough stamina to complete tasks
  • Cope with time pressures and multiple tasks
  • Interact with others
  • Understand constructive feedback
  • Manage stress

Some examples of psychosocial disabilities include schizoid disorders, such as schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder, anxiety disorders, such as obsessive compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, agoraphobia and social phobia or mood disorders, such as major and dysthymic depression and bipolar.

It is important to know not everyone with a mental health issue will have a psychosocial disability, but those affected are less likely to engage in education, training and social activities.

Without adequate support, psychosocial disability can exacerbate mental health conditions and cause a range of negative flow-on effects.

Once diagnosed, a person with a psychosocial disability can undergo psychological therapy with a doctor, psychologist or other health professionals, take medication to restore the chemical imbalances in their brain and reduce symptoms and attend community support programs.

These programs may help someone to access accommodation, employment, training, education and psychosocial rehabilitation.

Psychosocial disability and the NDIS

Not all mental health conditions are considered a disability under the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

If the psychosocial disability is permanent or likely to be permanent, has a significant impact on the person’s everyday life and their ability to participate in the community and is likely to require lifelong support, you may receive NDIS support, providing you meet the other age and residency requirements.

Read more about how the NDIS can support you if you’re living with a psychosocial disability in the article mental health and the NDIS.

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