Today, Dec. 3, is International Day of Persons with Disabilities. This day promotes the full and equal participation of persons with disabilities and to take action for the inclusion of persons with disabilities in all aspects of society and development.
According to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) World Report on Disability, 15 percent of the world’s population, or more than 1 billion people, are living with a disability. Of the over 1 billion, it’s estimated 450 million people are living with a mental or neurological condition—and two-thirds of these people will not seek professional medical help, largely due to stigma, discrimination, and neglect.
International Day of Persons with Disabilities promotes the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities in all spheres of society and development. It also focuses on spreading awareness and understanding of disabilities that are not immediately apparent, such as mental illness, chronic pain or fatigue, sight or hearing impairments, diabetes, brain injuries, neurological disorders, learning differences, and cognitive dysfunctions, among others.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, isolation, disconnect, disrupted routines and shortened services have greatly impacted the lives and mental well-being of people with disabilities right around the world. Spreading awareness of invisible disabilities, as well as these potentially detrimental—and not always immediately apparent—impacts to mental health, is crucial as the world continues to fight against the virus.