A Sheffield study has found that the pandemic has had a disproportionately negative impact on disabled people’s wellbeing.
The report found that 71% of disabled respondents said that their mental health has declined compared to 55% all respondents.
One reply said : “During the pandemic, my mental health has been worse because I have been isolated from everyone”
For many people, their mental wellbeing has decreased as they have become socially isolated and some disabled people have reported feeling unsafe when out and about, fearing they may catch COVID-19.
The lack of clarity around face covering exemptions has also caused anguish, as there have been many people with a disability or health condition which made it difficult to wear a face covering.
She added : “Face masks are hard because of my autism. I miss even more social cues and can’t go anywhere because I can’t wear one”
The report also highlighted that many have lost their confidence and have become deskilled through shielding, becoming socially isolated.
The group recognised that for many disabled people, coming out of lockdown and moving into ‘the new normal’ will bring with it fear and anxiety.
Heather Burns, Head of Commissioning-Mental Health, Learning Disability, Autism & Dementia at Sheffield CCG said : ““We won’t come out of this unscathed as a population and what we need to try to do is make people feel it’s okay not to be okay, to seek help, seek guidance, seek health and wellbeing support that’s available and then we need to be targeting programs to people that do need that additional support.”