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Treatment of People with Mental and Physical Disabilites

Over the course of the last several years, social attitudes regarding the treatment of those with mental and physical disabilities have changed. These changes have had direct implication on the development of public policy. While changes in public policy have been positive to some extent—i.e. the adoption of the Americans with Disabilities Act—changing social attitudes and public policy have promulgated a decline in the social services that are provided for many disabled Americans. This is especially true for individuals with mental disabilities and learning deficiencies.

Treatment of People with Mental and Physical DisabilitesWith the realization that social services for those with mental and learning disabilities have decreased over the course of the last decade, there is an impetus to explore the consequences that have resulted from this change. To this end, this investigation considers the specific problems that have arisen as a direct result of these changes. By exploring how public policy has changed the context of services provided to those with mental and learning disabilities, it will be possible elucidate the serious problems that currently face those in this situation. Further, through a careful examination of the changes that have been made, it will be possible to provide some insight on what improvements could be made to the system overall.

Changes in the System

Evaluating the changes in social services that have impacted outcomes for those with metal and learning disabilities, an author (2004) reports that over the last decade, health services available to those with mental retardation have decreased dramatically. A review of the current literature on this subject by the author demonstrates that “Disparities in health care place people with MR at high risk for morbidity and premature mortality”. What this effectively suggests is that this change in public policy has had direct ramifications for the health of the mentally retarded individual. So much so that mortality and morbidity are being impacted.

Further examining how changes in social services provided to those with mental and learning disabilities has changed, an author (1996) notes that over the last few years, the number of services offered to families dealing with mentally retarded children and adults have decreased. Given that caregivers of individuals with mental retardation often face high levels of stress and frustration, the decreasing number of services for family members makes care for these individuals much more difficult. As such, the reduction of service for mentally retarded individuals has ramifications for the individual, the family and ultimately the community.

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