Scholarship to Connect the Dots Between Mental Health and Learning Disabilities

My name is Morgan Miller and I am a proud recipient of a 2018 NAMI Arapahoe/Douglas Counties Seeds of Hope Scholarship. Receiving a scholarship from NAMI ADCO helps support my goal of becoming a special education teacher. In my studies and work, I have observed an often overlooked correlation between learning disabilities and mental health.

My passion for this work has been a dream since childhood. I believe as a future educator, I can help highlight the need for educators to know about mental illnesses and their prevalence in those with learning disabilities. In recent years, I have worked with individuals who have intellectual disabilities observed a strong connection to co-occurring mental illnesses.

Statistics support this, which highlights the need for educators to have a better understanding about this commonplace. Mental reports between

25 and 40% of people with learning disabilities also experience mental health issues.

In fact, the prevalence of a diagnosable psychiatric disorder is 36% in children and adolescents with learning disabilities, compared with 8% of those who do not have a learning disability.

One specific disability I have studied in my work is Down Syndrome. Individuals affected by Down Syndrome are known to have higher incidence of anxiety and depression. Working with special needs children and adults in both school and recreational therapeutic settings, I have observed that many experience poor mental health symptoms.

I believe it is important to educate families and caretakers about mental health, as well as provide support resources. Currently, there is not enough awareness about the connection between disabilities and mental health.

Personally, I have been affected by the negative effects of mental health in my family and friends. My grandfather and uncle both have bipolar disorder. I have seen them hospitalized and struggle to navigate family relationships. The ups and downs of their illness is challenging for them and our family.

Statistically, one and five of us will be affected.

In middle school, a friend of mine completed suicide. Since then, I have known many people who have experienced anxiety and depression, which often leads to substance use/abuse as a way to cope. Today, youth are experiencing anxiety and depression at an increasing and alarming rate.

Slowly, we are making progress to create greater awareness for mental health, but there is considerable work to be done.

NAMI Arapahoe/Douglas Counties is an excellent education and support resource for families and individuals that are impacted by mental health. Their valuable efforts aim to better connect families and individuals impacted by mental health. NAMI ADCO believes in the need to support this expanding community through its community focused outreach initiatives, like the Seeds of Hope Scholarships. If you aren’t familiar, I encourage you to learn more about this valuable scholarship program.

By having student ambassadors and continuing to offer scholarships, NAMI ADCO is able to spread the word and make a difference in our schools, communities, and lives. I am proud to be connected with NAMI Arapahoe/Douglas Counties and will continue sharing resources for them.

Article by: Morgan Miller- Contributor, NAMI Arapahoe/Douglas Counties

Scholarship to Connect the Dots Between Mental Health and Learning Disabilities