December 3rd is the International Day of People With Disabilities (IDPWD). In support of this year's theme - 'Not all Disabilities are Visible' - Elsevier presents presents a curated, open access collection of over 50 journal articles and book chapters focused on spreading awareness and understanding of disabilities, many of which are not immediately apparent. This includes mental illness, chronic pain or fatigue, brain injuries, neurological disorders, learning differences and cognitive dysfunctions, among others.
According to the WHO World Report on Disability, 15 per cent of the world’s population, or more than 1 billion people, are living with disability. Of this number, it’s estimated 450 million 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.
Another 69 million individuals are estimated to sustain Traumatic Brain Injuries each year worldwide, while one in 160 children are identified as on the autism spectrum.
These are just some examples of the millions of people currently living with a disability that is not immediately visible, and a reminder of the importance of removing barriers for all people living with disability, both visible and invisible.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, isolation, disconnect, disrupted routines and diminished 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 impacts to mental health, is crucial as the world continues to fight against the virus.