Holding Space: Understanding invisible disabilities and intersectionality – Part 2 [A mental health manual]

Holding Space: Understanding invisible disabilities and intersectionality – Part 2 [A mental health manual]

The experiences of persons with disabilities are not homogenous. Depending on the disability itself, whether the disability is visible or invisible, and depending on the intersections of other marginalisations whether its caste, religion, gender or sexuality, people experience their disability differently and society perceives them differently. Often the narratives and realities of persons with invisible disabilities and those living with disabilities and also other diversities find themselves often de-prioritised or misunderstood in disability discourses and support provided.

To address these challenges and to ensure that therapy support remains sensitive and inclusive, we have published a self learning manual titled: ‘Holding Space: Understanding invisible disabilities and intersectionality’. This is the second manual in the Holding Space series.

Below it is the text: “Holding Space: Understanding invisible disabilities and intersectionality – Part 2.” There are illustrations of several people coming together on a beige background. On the left is an illustration of a person wearing headphones and their hair in a ponytail. They have their arms wrapped around a path blooming across their body. At the bottom of the path are some strawberries growing and there's a hand near it holding the sun for them to grow. Slightly above are some mushrooms growing, and two hands forming a canopy to create a dark area for them to thrive, and ahead are some leaves growing and a hand above them with a watering-can pours water. Next to it is an illustration of a person's path through three different days marked by calendar pages 7, 12 and 25. They have long hair and are wearing spectacles. In the first one they're using a wheelchair, in the second one they're in pain on the floor lying down with kinesio tape on their leg and a heating pad on their back and thigh, and in the third image they're walking with a shopping bag, flowers blooming beside them. Next to it there is a person with short cropped hair, holding a cluster of squiggles/scribbles, looking upset, sitting on a mat. There are little speech bubbles on the scribbles that they are holding close to their chest. At the bottom corner are two flowers blooming.

We began working on persons across disabilities and their mental health through our first manual – ‘Holding Space: deconstructing disability experiences and navigating ableism in therapeutic conversations’. This manual was a starting point to engage mental health professionals on a variety of topics through the lived experiences of persons with disabilities.

Part 2 in this series takes the deconstruction of ableism further in examining its influence and effects on invisible disabilities and intersections of other marginalisations and disabilities. The manual is divided into two parts: One dealing with Invisible Disabilities and the second dealing with Intersectionality. This manual is also created as a multi media self-learning tool for mental health practitioners, educators, social workers and anyone working with persons with disabilities. The exercises invite learners to read quotes, excerpts of articles, watch videos and consider questions offered for reflection.

The manual is available for download here.

[Note for screen reader users: This manual is best read on a pdf reading software after downloading it.]