Is There a Link Between Learning Difficulties and Mental Health?

Can you imagine living with a learning difficulty so severe that basic daily tasks become overwhelming obstacles? Where despite intellectual strengths, your ability to learn, retain information, or understand instructions is compromised? This may leave you feeling lost, insecure, and undervalued. Where the stress of living with a learning difficulty is negatively impacting your self-esteem or mental health, but there seems to be no solution? Perhaps you, or someone you love, is affected in this way by learning difficulties or challenges. That was the case for the founder of the Arrowsmith Program, Barbara Arrowsmith Young.

Fortunately, through over 35 years’ experience working with children, adolescents, and adults with learning difficulties, Ms. Arrowsmith Young developed a cognitive therapy program that can treat the underlying causes of learning challenges. Graduates of the program can lead more focused, productive, and fulfilled lives. Based on her research, enrollment in the program can lead to profound and lasting positive effects on the lives of the people who struggle with learning difficulties. Children with learning difficulties can emerge as confident learners, equipped to take on the challenges of adolescence and adulthood. Life-changing improvements are also available for adult learners.

How Do Learning Difficulties Relate to Mental Health?

The way society treats people with learning difficulties can lead to emotional scars and long term effects on self-esteem. Self-judgement and negative interactions with teachers, coaches, parents, and peers, can lead to feelings of isolation, depression, frustration, and sometimes aggression. Ms. Arrowsmith Young has personally expressed that she had attempted suicide several times before the age of 20. Continually receiving negative feedback understandably leads to feelings of low self worth.

Educators, and society in general, are becoming more aware of learning challenges and the issues surrounding them. However, people with learning difficulties are regularly dismissed as lazy, unintelligent, or uncommitted. There is a common stigma associated with learning difficulties and mental health issues. This stigma causes those who suffer with these issues to become further isolated from their peers. Individuals that reach adulthood with unaddressed learning difficulties are over-represented in marginalized societal groups. They also have an increased incidence of risk-taking behaviors and mental health issues. According to the Journal of Learning Disabilities, more than 30 percent of people with learning difficulties also report having mental health and anxiety disorders. For people without learning challenges, this number is just 10 percent(1).

Can Learning Difficulties and Associated Mental Health Challenges be Overcome?

Research shows that the brain can be strengthened. Learning disabilities can be treated through targeted strengthening of specific brain functions that cause learning difficulties. The Arrowsmith Program offers solutions to improve the lives of those with learning difficulties, one person at a time. It is an exciting time for the Arrowsmith Program. New research is clearly demonstrating specific changes in brain function as a result of completing the customized exercises that make up the Arrowsmith Program.

It is commonly understood that approximately 10 percent of the population is afflicted with a learning difficulty or challenge. However, Ms. Arrowsmith Young believes that number is actually within the range of 10-20 percent. The Arrowsmith Program effectively treats learning difficulties, and by association the long term effects on mental health.  Now imagine a world in which 10-20 percent of the population–those who may currently be struggling with self-esteem or mental health issues–can overcome their learning challenges. The positive impact would touch not only the lives of these individuals and their families, but would be a big step toward creating a stronger and more inclusive society.

To view the complete Huffington Post article on Barbara Arrowsmith Young’s journey visit: https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/barbara-arrowsmithyoung/canadian-mental-health-week_b_3224386.html

 

(1) Wilson, A.M., Armstrong, C.D., Furrie, A. and Wilcot, E. The mental Health of Canadians With Self-Reported Learning Disabilities. J Learning Disabilities 2009 42:24-40