Mental Health and the Social Model of Disability 

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At Equal Lives we want to change the conversation around mental health. In the same way as other types of disability, many of the barriers someone faces when they’re living with a common mental health illness e.g depression, anxiety – are social barriers. Barriers put in place by society that, if removed, would allow an improved recovery, increased accessibility and inclusion and a better quality of life.

Part of the conversation around mental health needs to be removing the shame and stigma – that it is not a reflection of character or strength to be living with a mental health issue and that help and support should be made accessible to all.

We believe that increasing the awareness of the Social Model of Disability and supporting a world free from disabling barriers, more people who live with a mental health illness can free themselves of stigma, access support and ensure that support is right for them, barrier free. 

Update - October 2020 

240 people took part in our Mental Health survey. The results are very interesting and have highlighted areas for us to work on, on behalf of our members. As the results below indicate, for 47% of people surveyed mental health did not come to mind when thinking about disability. However, 56% believe those with mental health problems face discrimination. With 60% of people surveyed having not heard of the Social Model of Disability this is an area that we need to address. Through the promotion of the Social Model of Disability and raising awareness about mental health as a disability we believe we can disable more barriers for people living with mental health conditions.

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After looking closely at the data we plan to address some those areas by:

  • Raising awareness of mental health as a disability

  • Explaining and promoting the Social Model of Disability as a whole

  • Focussing on mental health and the Social Model of Disability 

  • Supporting our members to raise awareness and tackle barrier to independence  

What is the Social Model of Disability? 

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If you would like to take part in the project or find out more please email us at