Public Health Issue

Powerful Essays
Mental Retardation/Intellectual Disability Action Plan
Nur 422
Waynesburg University
March 10, 2013

One major public health issue in the United States, which is commonly overlooked, is the prevalence of individuals with mental retardation. According to an article on Medscape’s eMedicine web site, “mental retardation (MR), also known as intellectual disability (ID), is a descriptive term for sub-average intelligence and impaired adaptive functioning arising in the developmental period (age less than 18 years) (Zeldin, 2012). Intellectual disability is a major social, educational and health problem in the United States. The Missouri Department of Mental Health estimates that “as many as 1 American in 35 may be mentally retarded,” and “every five minutes, a child is born with mental retardation – more than 100,000 per year” (Missouri Department of Mental Health, 2012). People with intellectual disabilities need special assistance in order to manage the many challenges they face. The most important issue faced by individuals with intellectual disabilities is the social stigma placed on them as a group. Many people, health care professionals included, have little understanding about the disorders that are linked to intellectual disabilities, and thus have many biases and stereotypes regarding these conditions. Within the health care system, lack of knowledge and bias regarding people with ID has led to poor outcomes in this population in comparison with the general public. In fact, the Surgeon General stated that “many doctors and dentists either refuse to treat mentally retarded patients or give them inferior care” (U. S. Public Health Service, 2001). People with ID, therefore, are “considered a vulnerable population that places additional demands on the health care system by virtue of their specific needs” (Fisher, 2004). The United States government has taken steps to reduce the social stigma society places on individuals with intellectual



Cited: Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare. (2009). Understanding the Office of Developmental Programs in Pennsylvania: Mental Retardation and Autism Services. Harrisburg: PA Department of Public Welfare. Fisher, K. (2004). Health disparities and mental retardation. Journal of Nursing Scholarship, 48-53. Harper, D. C., & Wadsworth, J. S. (1992). Improving health care communication for persons with mental retardation. Public Health Reports, 297-302. Horwitz, S. M., Kerker, B. D., Owens, P. L., & Zigler, E. (2008). The health status and needs of individuals with mental retardation. New Haven, CT: Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, Yale University School of Medicine. Krahn, G. l., Hammond, L., & Turner, A. (2006). A cascade of disparities: Health and health care access for people with intellectual disabilities. Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities Research Reviews, 70-82. Missouri Department of Mental Health. (2012, November). What everyone should know about mental retardation. Retrieved March 11, 2013, from Substance abuse mental health information - Missouri department of mental health: http://samhi.mimh.edu/.%5Ccache%5Cmentalretardation%5CWhat%20everyone%20should%20know%20about%20Mental%20Retardation.htm Shuman, P. (2010). Mental retardation: Special healthcare needs. Retrieved March 10, 2013, from CEUFast web site: http://www.ceufast.com/courses/viewcourse.asp?id=250 U. S. Public Health Service. (2001). Closing the gap: A national blueprint for improving the health of indificuals with mental retardation. Report of the Surgeon General 's conference on health disparities and mental retardation. Washington, DC: United States Public Health Service. Zeldin, A. S. (2012, July 13). Mental Retardation. Retrieved March 9, 2013, from Medscape Reference: http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1180709-overview

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