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21 disabilities under RPWD 2016 – Mental Illness

As part of series on the 21 disabilities included under the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (RPWD) Act, 2016 today we talk about Mental Illness.

Since mental illness is a form of invisible disability, it slips attention. People with mental illness face a lot of challenges as their health issue is not visible. Also it is difficult to diagnose the mental illness as it can exist in several forms and severity.

Signs and symptoms of mental illness are often difficult to identify.

Our society is slowly opening up about accepting the presence of mental illnesses. It is high time to create more awareness about mental illnesses and accept their seriousness.

Causes of mental illnesses

Mental disorders are a combination of various aspects of life and can have an impact on the way a person behaves, feels, perceives, or thinks.

There are several factors that need to be analyzed when it comes to the mental health of a person. Physical problems, environmental and social factors can cause mental disorders. In some cases, family history can lead to depression and anxiety.

Mental illnesses can affect people of all ages - students, teenagers and older adults.

Many older adults are at risk of developing mental disorders, neurological disorders. The mental health of older adults can be improved through active and healthy ageing. Education and strategies for active ageing, environment that support well-being are need of the hour. - Amrita Patil-Pimpale, Founder, Echoing Healthy Ageing (EHA)

Types of mental illness

There are several categories of mental disorders that affect behavior and personality. Mental disorders account for five of the 10 leading causes of disability, such as major depression, alcohol dependence, schizophrenia, bipolar affective disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

The disability factor

Some mental Illnesses can affect the ability of the person to function and can cause severe disabilities. It has been found that mental Illnesses may have a huge impact on the social and financial life of a person.

Mental health problems are also the leading cause of suicides.

For some people with mental disorders, living independently is not possible and they have to depend on others or be institutionalized.


Medicines, therapy and support can help in treatment of certain mental disorders or to manage the others. Psychotherapy is one of the most common options. Depending on the type or severity of mental health issue, therapy can be provided.

Mental health professionals can help a person identify their mental issues and follow the most suitable path of treatment.

It is vital that mental health be diagnosed early to get timely help and resolution.

"It is important to recognize the existence of mental illness as most people tend to deny being ill. Family members too can sometime not accept the fact that a person is ill and needs help. This needs to change and can be done through awareness", believes Madhu Juneja, Counselor with Sanjivini Society for Mental Health.

The RPWD Act, 2016 advocates for nondiscriminatory practices towards people with mental disorders. It also has the provision that reserves employment for persons with mental illness.

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