General awareness pamphlet on Psychosocial Disability:

Here are a few questions and answers on Psychosocial Disability and how it may be dealt with: [At the outset I’d like to state that we should be sensitive to the politics of language. Hence the term ‘Mental Illness/Mental Disorder’ shall be replaced with the term ‘psychosocial disability’ and people having ‘Mental Illnesses’ shall be referred to as the ‘Persons with Psychosocial Challenges’]

What is psychosocial well-being?

The essential dimension of psychosocial health is clear from the following: “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” Psychosocial health is an integral part of this definition. The goals and traditions of public health and health promotion can be applied just as usefully in the field of psychosocial wellbeing as they have been in the prevention of infectious or of cardio-vascular diseases, for example. However there is a major difference in the sense that there is a stigma attached to psychosocial disability as persons with psychosocial disability are often misperceived by the public as dangerous and thereby fit to be controlled with forcible medical treatment. The purpose of this pamphlet is to educate the Public to locate lack of psychosocial wellbeing in the environment rather than in the individual’s biology as also to enable the public to understand and take a truly empathetic view of persons with psychosocial disability. Biological impairment does not all by itself cause psychosocial disability. Psychosocial disability is caused by societal, attitudinal and legal barriers interacting with impairment. There is no health without psychosocial health.  Psychosocial well-being means much more than the  absence of mental disorders

Psychosocial health can be conceptualized as a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.

What causes psychosocial disability?

Psychosocial disability is determined by socio-economic and environmental factors. Psychosocial Disability and Psychosocial Disorders are determined by multiple interactions between impairment and social, attitudinal and legal barriers to impairment. A climate that respects and protects basic civil, political, socio-economic, women’s rights and cultural rights is also fundamental to psychosocial wellbeing-promotion. Without the security and freedom provided by these rights, it is very difficult to maintain a high level of psychosocial functioning. Psychosocial Disability is linked to a pathological societal framework that needs to be changed and people need to view the ones suffering from a psychosocial disability as part of society too. A psychosocial challenge is any disease or condition affecting the brain that influences the way a person thinks, feels, behaves and/or relates to others and to his or her surroundings. For instance Schizophrenia is a consequence of a severely stressful situation due to which the individual may be acting out-it is a series of responses that an individual shows when he/she has to live in an unliveable environment.

What are some examples of Psychosocial Disability?

Examples of Psychosocial Challenges Include: Depression /Bipolar disorder, Anxiety disorder, Schizophrenia, Obsessive-compulsive disorder, Stress disorder, Social phobia, Eating disorders (anorexia, bulimia or over-eating), Addiction,

What are the consequences of these problems?

According to the World Statistics Neuropsychiatric conditions (Psychosocial Disorders and Neurological Disorders together) are responsible for nearly 1/3rd of all the years lived with disability [abbreviated as YLD] worldwide.  Depression and alcohol disorders alone account for more than 20% of this total.  Worldwide neuropsychiatric disorders account for 12% of the total number of disability-adjusted life years [DALYs] lost.  Suicide is one of the world’s leading killers; although ranked 13th overall in young adults (15-34 year olds) suicide is one of the top three causes of death.

What then is the solution to the above mentioned problem?

THERE IS HOPE! Numerous studies show that the majority of people experiencing serious and persistent mental challenges can and do recover – Recovery is a journey or a process, not a destination or a cure! The goal of recovery is to move away from defining yourself by the labels given to you by an illness or the symptoms you may experience. More simply said, recovery is the process by which an individual recovers their self-esteem, identity, self-worth, dreams, pride, choice, dignity and a meaningful life.

Are Psychiatric western medicines the only way to help you recover and gain control over the Psychosocial challenge?

Some people are helped in achieving recovery via non-psychiatric alternatives and others achieve it via taking psychiatric medication and many are helped by a combination of the psychiatric model with the user-survivor model and non-psychiatric alternatives to mental health. Which of course leads to the question ‘what are these non-psychiatric alternatives that help in the prevention or alleviation of mental distress?’.

What are the non-psychiatric alternatives to addressing mental distress?

These could be used either individually or in combinations of two or many more therapies depending on what the individual finds comfortable and effective and useful. These are

  • Play Therapy-effective in dealing with children who project their own thoughts and feelings and emotions into the play-situation.
  • Story telling where most people mirror what has happened to them in their lives via a story and this could be a very good means of catharsis.
  • Music therapy-where people sing and listen to tunes that are very soothing.

Also Body Psychotherapies such as –

  • The Drums Circle where sticking to the group rhythm brings people back to reality-it reestablishes reality connection and gives a very nice feeling and oneness with the group.
  • Neurolinguistic Programming-which is a nice way to restructure or rewire our brains and experiencing a sense of power in doing so.
  • Dance therapy where co-ordination between muscles and connection between muscle and brain is re-established and we regain touch with our natural body sense.
  • Nutrition- this should be a must in any of your alternative therapy combinations and access to good nutrition is the most essential aspect.
  • Acumassage and hormonal balance by stressing the pressure points in your body that enable the free flow of energy in energy-constricted areas by pressing energy points under the skin that correspond to different energy points within different organs and this also helps to de-stress. Hormonal therapy corrects either hormone-excesses or hormone deficits.
  • Self Help Groups- where recovery happens via group support and sharing of experiences and learning from experiences as well. This can be a recovery based model.
  • Dynamic meditation: wherein there is a continuous movement of muscles accompanied by chaotic breathing that actually serves to re-establish normal and healthy breathing and brings one in touch with one’s inner quietness and very efficiently gain control over one’s emotions. There are several other alternatives to psychiatric medication which may also be used in consonance with the same. Or independently-depending on individual requirements.

For further help with psychosocial disability kindly contact Dr.Lavanya Seshasayee



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