Invisible disabilities will go unnoticed unless they are disclosed to you. For example, a person who uses a wheelchair can be easily perceived as someone with some sort of mobility impairment; and a person who wears heavily tinted glasses and uses a cane can be perceived as someone with a vision impairment. However, invisible disabilities such as psychological or psychiatric impairments are not easily perceived and can negatively impact a person as much as, or sometimes even more than, disabilities that are obvious.
Individuals with psychiatric conditions not only have to deal with the negative symptoms associated with their condition, such as anxiety, depression, paranoia, suicidal thoughts and hallucinations among others, but also with occasional people’s unfair judgments and misconceptions that imply they are simply faking a disorder in order to gain some sort of benefit or seek attention. They belief that because someone looks fine they can’t be that ill or that they are not ill at all. This could be due to the heavily weighted importance that society places on people’s external appearance rather than on their internal feelings and well being.
It is said that 1 out of 10 people in the United States suffer from invisible disabilities. Among that population are college students who may not even seek academic accommodations because of these misconceptions. This results in poor academic performance and ultimately complete, permanent college withdrawal.
Disability Services at Georgia State University is interested in understanding how our students with invisible disabilities feel and perform academically. It provides academic accommodations that are designed to alleviate the challenges associated with having a disability while leveling the playing field and providing equal access. It also refers students with invisible disabilities, such as psychological conditions, to our Georgia State University Counseling and Testing Center in order to receive the help and support they need without judging or fostering misconceptions.
Georgia State University Counseling Services: https://counselingcenter.gsu.edu/services/counseling-services/
“What Are Psychiatric Disabilities?” What Are Psychiatric Disabilities? | National Rehabilitation Information Center: https://naric.com/?q=en/FAQ/what-are-psychiatric-disabilities.