people with disabilities officially classified as a population experiencing health disparities

People with disabilities officially classified as a population experiencing health disparities

Written by Eliott Hamilton, Student Informatician

In September 2023, the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) officially classified people with disabilities as a population experiencing health disparities. This decision is a game changer for disability-inclusive research and highlights the pressing need to better understand and address the unique healthcare obstacles individuals with disabilities face.

What are Health Disparities?

A health disparity is a “health difference that adversely affects disadvantaged populations in comparison to a reference population, based on one or more health outcomes. All populations with health disparities are socially disadvantaged due in part to being subject to racist or discriminatory acts and are underserved in health care.”

Disparities in health outcomes are categorized as:

  • A higher likelihood of disease, an earlier onset of disease, or a more aggressive progression of disease
  • Increased mortality rates with certain health conditions, including premature mortality
  • Greater global burden of disease (GBD)
  • Lower outcomes on self-reported data tracking day-to-day functioning and symptom collections

For people with disabilities, health disparities can vary as widely as disabilities themselves, but many people within the disability community share experiences, like health conditions not taken seriously, poorer mental health, and reduced life expectancy due to limited treatment options.

What does NIMHD’s decision mean for people with disabilities?

The National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD)’s decision to recognize and research people with disabilities as a population that experiences health disparities is significant for several reasons: 

Recognition of Unique Challenges: People with disabilities often face unique health challenges related to their disabilities. These challenges can include higher rates of certain health conditions, barriers to accessing healthcare, and disparities in health outcomes. Recognizing disability as a category for health disparities research acknowledges the specific needs and experiences of this population.

Inclusivity in Research: By designating people with disabilities as a population with health disparities, the NIH is highlighting the importance of inclusivity in research. It emphasizes the need to include individuals with disabilities in health studies to better understand their health status, identify disparities, and develop interventions that address their specific needs.

Promoting Health Equity: The designation demonstrates the commitment to promoting health equity for all populations, including those with disabilities. It acknowledges disparities in health outcomes and healthcare access exist within the disability community and emphasizes the importance of addressing these inequities.

Policy Implications: The recognition of people with disabilities as a population with health disparities can have implications for policy development and resource allocation. It may lead to focused initiatives, interventions, and policies directed at improving the health and well-being of people with disabilities, thereby reducing disparities.

Advocacy and Awareness: The designation helps raise awareness about the unique health challenges faced by people with disabilities, fostering advocacy for their rights and healthcare needs. It encourages a broader understanding of health disparities beyond traditional demographic categories, recognizing disability as a significant factor

What Are the Future Implications?

With this decision to acknowledge people with disabilities as a researchable population, the NIMHD is specifically focusing on the need for additional, more inclusive research. Alongside this designation, the NIMHD announced new research funding designated to disability healthcare equity – incentivizing researchers to address unique health disparities the disability community faces.

In addition to understanding health outcomes specific to the disability community, funding research to address disability healthcare equity is the first step in supporting inclusive research in healthcare. Future studies by the NIMHD will likely incorporate a more accurately diverse representation of the general population. 

Representation of people with diverse disabilities in health disparities research leads to a better understanding of unique health needs, challenges disabled people face within their healthcare, and the wide range of disparities the community deals with daily.

Stigma Silenced: Stories Spoken, A Mental Health Podcast is coming soon!

Written by Bailey Patterson, Student Informatician

We are so excited to share the stories of those who have experienced stigma related to a mental health condition. 

The idea of a highly stigmatized story in the world of mental health disability is one of interest. In the past decade, leaps and bounds have been made in terms of speaking more openly about mental health. Nowadays, schools, businesses, and communities across the country are more aware of terms like “mental health days”, “stressors”, “depression”, and “anxiety”. This type of awareness makes discussing mental health commonplace and opens a new world of acceptance for people who experience things like anxiety and depression in their daily lives. 

However, the mainstream mental health awareness movement has left behind a large group of people. It is no secret that highly stigmatized mental health disabilities have not received the same much needed acceptance in order to reduce the marginalization the people with these disabilities experience. People diagnosed with schizophrenia, personality disorders, bipolar disorders, psychotic disorders, OCD, dissociative disorders, people who have experienced involuntary commitment, and more have stories that have been pushed into the shadows of larger conversations. 

This podcast is where we want to expand the scope of the mental health awareness conversation. This podcast seeks to highlight and center conversations about these highly stigmatized disabilities by bringing people with lived experiences to the forefront. We want to create a space where people with highly stigmatized diagnoses can speak honestly and openly about themselves, their experiences with their condition be it positive and/or negative, the treatment, stigmatization, systemic barriers and violence, and marginalization they face due to their disability and how this affects them overall as human beings. 

The road to a liberatory future for all people with mental health disabilities is long. Many systemic and interpersonal factors weave together to create the specific type marginalization this group faces. This podcast and the conversations it highlights will only be one step in the right direction, but it is with hope that the barriers and oppressions discussed in these conversations will inspire broader action that this podcast is made. It is also our hope to capture and share disabled joy. Both of these elements are part of the whole of the disabled identity, which we hope to give space and power to in Stigma Silenced: A Mental Health Podcast. 

Check out the Sphere website to listen to new episodes as they become available.

Minority Stress & LGBTQIA2S+ Mental Health

Written by Eliott Hamilton, Student Informatician

Terms to Know

  • LGBTQIA2S+ – Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual, Two-Spirit, + (representing all other Queer & Trans identities not represented in the acronym
  • Heterosexism – prejudice against any non-heterosexual form of behavior, relationship, or community, particularly the denigration of lesbians, gay men, and those who are bisexual or transgender.
  • GSRM – Gender, Sexual, & Romantic Minorities
  • Transgender – An adjective describing a person who does not identify with the gender they were assigned at birth
  • Cisgender – An adjective describing a person who does identify with the gender they were assigned at birth
  • Nonbinary – An adjective describing anyone who identifies as a gender outside of the man/woman binary. This term can be used as an individual identity or as an umbrella term for many gender identities that do not fall within the gender binary.
  • Marginalization – The process through which an individual or group with distinctive qualities becomes identified as one that is not accepted fully into the larger group.
  • Multiply Marginalized – An adjective describing a person who is a part of two or more marginalized groups.
  • BIPOC – Black, Indigenous, & people of color
  • AAPI – Asian American and Pacific Islanders

What is Minority Stress Theory?

Minority Stress Theory describes the additional stress that members of marginalized communities experience due to stigma.

Stigma and Minority Stress

Stigmatization is driven by imbalances in social, economic, and political power. It also furthers these imbalances by limiting opportunities for stigmatized groups while reducing barriers for socially dominant group.

The Process of Stigma: 1. Labeling: Human differences are identified and labeled. 2. Stereotyping: Labeled differences are linked to undesirable characteristics within the dominant culture. 3. “Othering:” Stigmatized groups and individuals are separated out from the rest of society, creating an “us vs. them” mentality. 4. Discrimination: “Othered” groups and individuals experience discrimination which leads to unequal access to resources.

How is minority stress different?

Minority stress is additional stress that adds to the regular stressors everyone faces. Regular stressors, such as applying for jobs or looking for housing, are also made worse by minority stress.

Minority Stress and Mental Health

People from the LGBTQIA2S+ community are more likely to experience harassment, bullying, discrimination, and even violent hate crimes, such as assault, than cisgender and heterosexual people. Experiencing and witnessing discrimination related to LGBTQIA2S+ identity can lead to feelings of isolation and fear.

LGBTQIA2S+ youth are exposed to harmful rhetoric about their identities through peers, media, and sometimes, family, leading to low self-esteem and internalized homophobia & transphobia.

These experiences lead to hyper-vigilance and increase the risk of depression, anxiety, and suicidal idealization, harming the overall health of romantic, sexual, and gender diverse communities.

Legislation, Location, and Minority Stress

Minority stress is experienced to different degrees depending on geographic location and dominant cultures. Those living in states or countries where LGBTQIA2S+ identity is highly politicized or criminalized are more likely to be impacted by minority stress.

Support from family, peers, educators, and healthcare providers significantly lowers the risk of mental health impacts and suicidal ideation.


Multiply marginalized members of the LGBTQIA2S+ community, such as people with disabilities, BIPOC, AAPI, Jewish, or Muslim sexual and gender diverse individuals, are more likely to experience minority stress and often experience minority stress for each of their marginalized identities.

Members of the trans & non-binary community are more impacted by minority stress compared to cisgender members of the LGBTQIA2S+ community. Gender Stress Theory, based on Minority Stress Theory, describes the additional stress that gender diverse communities experience due to stigma.

Healthy Coping Strategies/Minimizing Harm

Minimizing the effects of minority stress is important for the mental and physical health of romantic, sexual, and gender diverse communities. Some healthy coping strategies include:

  • Connect with Others: Minority stress can lead to feelings of isolation and make social settings seem overwhelming. However, staying connected with other members of the community and people you trust is important for mental health. Try socializing with small groups in safe environments or joining a community support group to make new friends.
  • Unplug: Social media and news sources are often flooded with content related to anti-LGBTQIA2S+ legislation, leading to constant exposure to minority stress. Be sure to take intentional breaks from social media and news sources. Try putting your phone on silent and curling up with a good book or spending time in nature.
  • Prioritize your Physical Health: Minority stress can be draining, overwhelming, and takes a toll on physical health over time. Try investing in your health by staying hydrated, getting enough sleep, or moving your body in ways that feel good to you. Trying a new healthy recipe can also be a fun way to invest in your physical health.
  • Find a Creative Outlet: Sometimes words aren’t enough. Try finding a creative way to express yourself, whether that is dancing, painting, or playing an instrument. Creativity can help you process the emotions related to minority stress.
  • Talk to a Professional: Identity based discrimination is challenging to process. Be sure to check in with yourself often, and reach out to a mental health professional for support if you are struggling. Resources can be found through the UK Counseling Center or at

8 apps to thrive as a person with ADHD

8 apps to thrive as a person with ADHD

Written by Eliott Hamilton, Student Informatician

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) affects about 10 million adults. While ADHD comes with many strengths like creative thinking and the ability to hyperfocus on a task, it also leaves many people struggling to navigate a world that was not made for them. 

People with ADHD often struggle to manage time, start or complete tasks, or stay organized. This can affect all areas of life from work and school to relationships and mental health.

Navigating these challenges is frustrating and overwhelming for many people with ADHD and conventional approaches to overcoming these obstacles might not meet the needs of everyone. Smartphone apps can help bridge those gaps. Whether it’s managing tasks or practicing mindfulness, these digital allies can be invaluable in fostering productivity and personal growth.

Note: Apps can be helpful for getting work, chores, homework, and other to-dos done on a daily basis; however, they are not meant to replace help from a mental health care professional.

8 apps to thrive as a person with ADHD


  • Who it’s best for: Plant lovers who struggle with consistent care routines
  • iOS rating: 4.8
  • Android rating: 4.3
  • Price: 1 month Premium Plant Care for $7.99 or 12 months for $35.99

Planta is a personalized reference tool for creating and tracking plant care routines. Users input their plants to get notifications when it’s time to water, fertilize, and re-pot each plant. Planta includes a photo-based identification tool, a light meter to test light levels in each room, and a diagnosis feature for struggling plants. Planta is a useful tool for those who struggle with object permanence or task management and can help plant parents keep their plants happy and healthy. 


  • Who it’s best for: People who want to improve their mental health by focusing on mindfulness and minimizing stress
  • iOS rating: 4.8
  • Android rating: 4.4
  • Price: The Calm app is free to download; however, most content is through the paid subscription at $14.99/month or $69.99/year.

People with ADHD tend to experience increased stress levels and burnout. Mindfulness is a powerful tool for mitigating these challenges and promoting self-growth. Calm is a mental health resource that promotes sleep, meditation, and relaxation as tools to live stress-free. Calm offers mindfulness exercises through guided meditations, video lessons on gentle movement, and sessions supporting recovery from burnout. Calm also includes tailored soundscapes and music to support focus, relaxation, or restful sleep. 


  • Who it’s best for: People who want science-backed material covering a wide range of mental health topics
  • iOS rating: 4.8
  • Android rating: 4.5
  • Price: Annual: $69.99/year | Monthly: $12.99/month

Headspace is another mindfulness tool designed to provide accessible mental health support. Headspace’s science-based guided meditations, mindfulness exercises, and mental health coaching tools are all designed and facilitated by a team of counselors, psychologists, and social workers. Headspace offers resources to handle a wide range of mental health challenges and to build lasting habits.


  • Who it’s best for: Visual thinkers and learners
  • iOS rating: 4.6
  • Android rating: 4.0
  • Price: free for personal use

Many people with ADHD are visual thinkers and learners who often struggle with traditional note-taking methods that lack visual connections across topics and note sections. Obsidian is a writing app that can be customized for various types of writing, including journaling, note-taking, and project management. Files are stored locally to promote privacy and are non-proprietory, so notes can be accessed outside of the Obsidian app. Users can also create links between notes for easy reference, build diagrams and charts directly onto a text file, and view the connections between linked files in an interactive graph, making it great for anyone who struggles with note organization or forgetfulness.


  • Who it’s best for: Game-lovers who want to improve habits or increase productivity when completing tasks
  • iOS rating: 4.0
  • Android rating: 3.8
  • Price: Premium subscription available: $4.99/month | $14.99/three months | $29.99/six months | $47.99/year

Many people with ADHD struggle to maintain adequate dopamine levels, making task management a constant struggle. Habitica is a role-playing game that transforms completing everyday tasks into a dopamine-rich experience by turning them into a game to support habit-building. Users create an avatar, input daily tasks, habits, or to-do lists, then fight to conquer the task “monsters.” Completing tasks gains users in-game rewards to customize and buff their avatars. Habitica also offers a social productivity feature, allowing friends to hold each other responsible or take on monsters in “super accountability mode” where individual users’ activity affect the group as a whole.

Remember the Milk

  • Who it’s best for: Anyone who wants to keep multiple lists in one place
  • iOS rating: 4.7
  • Android rating: 4.4
  • Price: free accounts available; Pro Version available for $49.99/year.

ADHD frequently involves difficulties with memory and object permanence. Maintaining a well-organized list can help overcome these challenges and ensuring nothing is overlooked. Remember The Milk is a shareable, multi-list task-organizer that can sync across devices and calendars. Tasks can be added with due dates, priority rankings, future repetitions, and tags to better support detailed organization. Users can customize notifications to send through email, text, and various mobile apps and delegate by sharing tasks and lists with others. Remember The Milk also includes options for subtasks, breaking down the big tasks into manageable chunks.

Key Ring

  • Who it’s best for: Savings lovers and loyalty card collectors
  • iOS rating: 4.5
  • Android rating: 3.5
  • Price: Free

Many people with ADHD are familiar with the dreaded “ADHD tax,” referring to the financial challenges often paired with ADHD. Key Ring is designed to manage all shopping tools in one place. Users can add loyalty and membership cards without the bulk of physical cards. Key Ring also includes a search function to find local deals. Users can save favorite items and be notified when new sales start.

Clarify ADHD

  • Who it’s best for: People who want to reframe their mindset to view ADHD as a strength and learn to work with their ADHD rather than against it
  • iOS rating: 4.4
  • Android rating: 4.1
  • Price: $40/year for Premium

Clarify introduces thoughtful features designed to nurture the strengths of ADHD minds, shifting the focus from overcoming challenges to promoting inherent capabilities. Clarify is a support app designed for those with ADHD offering personalized strategies for time management, overcoming task avoidance, and maximizing productivity. Clarify guides users in daily, centering activities and in creating immersive to-do lists that fuel focus throughout the day. It features a Deep Work Room where tasks are approached one at a time with a visual timer and ambient music to occupy your phone and promote hyperfocus to achieve tasks. Clarify offers 2-minute audio coaching sessions that highlight the benefits of ADHD, reframing it as a positive asset.

Navigating the world with ADHD can be frustrating, overwhelming, and isolating. While work, school, and extracurricular schedules may not be created with neurodivergence in mind, it is still possible to thrive in all areas by working with ADHD. Embracing a digital toolkit empowers individuals with ADHD to create a personalized approach to their daily lives and highlight the valuable assets that come with neurodivergent thinking and identity. 

For more information and resources on ADHD, visit or

10 Ways being an Artist Makes You More Employable

Written by Bailey Patterson, Student Informatician

Experience in the arts hones a valuable skill set when it comes to employability across all markets. Artists are a fountain of talent and discipline, with applications from the healthcare industry, to marketing, to social services, and everything in between. In addition, artists make for great collaborators when designing accessible spaces across many contexts. Here are ten reasons why experience in arts translates into high employability: 

1. Creativity

The ability to “think outside the box” is invaluable in the workplace. Minds driven by artistic backgrounds are able to approach complex situations from new perspectives and create innovative solutions. This translates well into today’s “innovation economy”. Artists are the people you want to think about problems and generate new ideas. Creativity like this is invaluable in the context of creating accessible solutions. 

2. Adaptability

Any artist you meet is likely proficient in more than one skill. Artists sometimes face challenges caused by uncertainty, and are able to pivot their direction and make unexpected situations work for them. 

3. Resourcefulness 

Have you ever seen a beautiful visual artwork created by crushed can or newspaper clippings? Were you amazed at how someone saw something considered by many to be garbage and created meaning out of it? Artists of all varieties are skilled at using what they have and making the most out of it. They can stretch resources and create pathways from situations others might struggle to find any use for. This ability to imagine beyond the typical works well in situations where innovation is needed to create more accessible designs. 

4. Eye for the Aesthetic

Every business wants a product that is pleasing to the senses. Creating visual, auditory, or other interest is part of what makes products or services memorable. Artists are already accustomed to striving for stylistic excellence and will bring in a creative direction that improves the value of the entire business. 

5. Respectful of Others’ Time 

Many artists, regardless of discipline, are familiar with working with deadlines and schedules. Art is often team-based, and being punctual is a sign of respect for a colleagues’ time and dedication to the overall quality of the product. 

A young woman with headphones lowered to her neck sits on a blanket in a grassy outdoor space. She turns the page of a book and looks upward while contemplating. 

6. Self-Motivation

Artists are driven by the desire to create. Often, they are creating works that start from nothing but an idea. For this reason, artists are self-driven workers. They envision a goal and regulate their own progress toward it. This means they are excellent leaders when it comes to completing projects and can be trusted to “get the job done”, whatever it may include.  

7. Team Player

Every art form, on some level, is a team effort. Artists are well-versed in collaboratively using skills to create the best product. They understand their own strengths and can fit efficiently into any group. They have appreciation for teammates and understand that great outcomes require great teamwork. 

8. Interpersonal Communication 

If you have ever spent time with artists, you will discover that they are often deeply thoughtful about other people. Whether they are introverted or extroverted, artists are fascinated by the human condition and have a thorough understanding of themselves and compassion for those around them. These qualities enhance their ability to build rapport with a variety of people. This ability to facilitate communication translates well into the creation of Universal Design features because it means the artist at hand has the skills they need to understand what issues their collaborators are bringing to the table. 

9. Public Speaking

Artists are no stranger to public speaking. Many fields within the arts require a person to present their ideas or talents in front of diverse types of audiences. Artists have experience demonstrating  this skill and can communicate critical ideas that best represent their organization in front of a variety of people. Artists adept in public speaking can “read a crowd” and tune their presentation to the needs of the listener be highly effective communicators. 

10. Boldness

The arts is a fast paced and competitive field. Criticism is at the heart of how artists improve skills. This also invites risk taking and bold ideas. For this reason, people with backgrounds in the arts will be courageous in their work and handle criticism with grace and introspection. 

A group of people sit at a table in a bright office space. A few members of the group are in conversation while the others listen. 

All of these reasons demonstrate the potential that people with artistic skills bring to the table in the workplace, but let’s take it even further! Considering arts in employment becomes especially important when it comes to accessibility. In the world of business, it is important to prioritize the access needs of everyone who may come in contact with your operation. For this reason, Universal Design in all facets of work is a must! Universal Design is a goal that is reached through the hard work of teams of individuals. Artists and designers are some of the most important collaborators for ensuring accessibility is built into the fabric of the work being done across many different contexts. 

With all of this in mind, it’s clear to see that people with experience in the arts should not be overlooked in employment. Furthermore, honing one’s skills in the arts translates to employability today in many energizing ways. Universal Design and Accessibility practices are a must in the workplace, and artists are people who can help get you there. Employers should consider artists and their skills as potential they can tap into and encourage employees to explore their creative side.