Adult Resources

Adult resources

Social Model vs Mental Model

The medical model of disability states that those with disabilities have an illness or condition and that there is something wrong with them. This is often seen first and the person second. Positive change for the person is related to diagnosis, labelling, therapy and medication. This model predated the social model and can be seen in many arears of our society, for example schools specifically for disabled children which segregate them from other children and thus exclude them.  Although views are shifting away from the medical model towards the social model many laws in the UK are still based on the medical model.

The medical model is likely to make individuals with a disability feel that they are different from what is deemed normal, leading them to feel isolated and to suffer from low self-esteem. They may feel judged by society and rejected and may feel that they do not have the same rights and opportunities than those without a disability. Regarding society as a whole the medical model segregates as opposed to integrates society. This prevents people learning from each other and benefiting from the positive impact of a diverse society. People’s prejudices about disabled people are therefore not challenged and disabled people continue to feel unheard, misunderstood and rejected by society. The medical model also prevents society from being held accountable for making faculties and opportunities accessible for everyone so disabled people’s rights to these things are not upheld or taken into consideration.

The social model of disability states that every individual is a valued member of society and everyone has the same rights to housing, transport, education and the use of facilities.  This model does not see people with disabilities as being faulty and instead sees the person as being ‘disabled’ by society, a society which needs to become more inclusive, for example, making faculties assessable to wheelchair users and having disabled and non-disabled children in the same school. The social model is far more progressive than the medical model, welcoming diversity and seeing the person not the disability. It identifies barriers and develops solutions and therefore makes positive changes to our society.

This model is likely to make individuals with a disability feel valued and part of a society which understands that everyone is different and people’s different needs should be considered so that faculties and opportunities are accessible to everyone. This will have a positive impact on society as a whole as people’s self-esteem will be higher leading them to have fulfilled lives. This will help people find jobs they enjoy and have healthy relationships. Everyone benefits as people are integrated and get to meet others who are different to them and realise that everyone has a part to play in society.