10 May 2023

MHE analysis: Mental health problems of people with physical disabilities

In the EU, 15% of the population, or 100 million people, live with disabilities and face heightened risks of marginalisation. The EU and member states have ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities ( UN CRPD) to protect their rights. In 2021, 29.7% of disabled EU citizens were at risk of poverty, compared to 18.8% without disabilities. These disparities extend to unmet healthcare needs, early school leaving, and a 50% higher risk of poverty. Discrimination affects half of those with disabilities, and disabled women face 2-5 times more violence risk.


Within this diverse community, shared experiences help identify overlooked needs. The link between mental health and physical disabilities is under-explored. Physical disability’s toll on mental well-being includes pain, discomfort, stress, and societal exclusion. Unemployment rates are disproportionately high among disabled individuals. Mental health systems often overlook the holistic nature of mental well-being in relation to identity and environment, favouring physical health concerns.


This report aims to provide some insight on the mental health of persons with physical disabilities by:

  • Assessing the impacts of physical disabilities on the mental health of persons;
  • Examining risk factors for mental health problems experienced by persons with physical disabilities;
  • Shedding light on the intersecting forms of discrimination experienced by individuals with physical disabilities and mental health problems or psychosocial disabilities;
  • Provide recommendations on changes that should be implemented to promote empowerment as well as mobilise support for the dignity, rights, and wellbeing and to ensure the full participation of persons with physical disabilities.


This document can aid stakeholders including policymakers and service providers, in grasping the mental health of those with physical disabilities, enhancing support. It’s also valuable for the public, fostering mental health literacy and understanding its varied impacts on different groups.

Stay connected

Get our latest news, personal stories, research articles, and job opportunities.