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Ableist Microaggressions and the Mental Health of Disabled Adults

Abstract

Microaggressions perpetuate inequalities and stereotypes against people from marginalized communities. Research demonstrates that ongoing experiences of identity-related microaggressions can negatively impact mental health outcomes, increase somatic symptoms, and increase negative affect. This study explores the relationship between experiences of ableist microaggressions and mental health outcomes among disabled adults by using a quantitative cross-sectional survey of 311 U.S. adults who identify as disabled/having a disability, to examine the correlation between ableist microaggressions (using the AMS-65) and mental health (assessed by the MHI-18). Findings indicate that increased experiences ableist microaggressions are negatively correlated with positive mental health outcomes, and that the visibility of disabilities/impairments are correlated with experiencing ableist microaggressions. These findings can inform the work of counselors, therapists, social workers, and other human service professionals when supporting disabled individuals, recognizing that their mental health may be related to these common and often unintentional oppressive interactions.

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Notes

  1. The language of “disabled” vs “people with disabilities” is preferred by disability rights groups and the disability justice movement, indicating that these individuals are disabled by society, and that identity first language (such as a Black woman, or gay man) makes more sense.

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Correspondence to Shanna K. Kattari.

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Kattari, S.K. Ableist Microaggressions and the Mental Health of Disabled Adults. Community Ment Health J 56, 1170–1179 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10597-020-00615-6

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10597-020-00615-6

Keywords

  • Disability
  • Ableism
  • Microaggressions
  • Mental health
  • Disabled adults