This is a great question! Unless you or someone you know has dyslexia and, or a
mental health disorder, it may be difficult to understand the differences between them.
Let’s start by defining both.
Dyslexia is a neurobiological disorder. According to the Yale Center for Dyslexia &
Creativity, “dyslexia is an unexpected difficulty in reading in an individual who has the
intelligence to be a much better reader.”
The American Psychological Association defines mental illness as a health condition
involving an irregular change in emotions, behavior and, or thinking problems.
For mental illness, symptoms often worsen over time if not properly treated and can
disturb peace in social, work or family activities. Examples of mental health disorders
include but are not limited to bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, ADHD and depression.
When someone has dyslexia, a failure in the rear hemisphere of their brain has
occurred. Because of this, their brain’s frontal lobe typically has to work harder. Dyslexia
does not change their emotions or behaviors like mental disorders can. Rather, the
impact dyslexia has and struggles it presents can greatly affect the emotions, behaviors
and thoughts of those with dyslexia.
That being said, a dyslexia diagnosis is often accompanied by another learning disorder
due to the neurobiological disruptions it causes or can be caused by. Some of these
include but are certainly not limited to autism, ADHD, dysgraphia, or speech and
hearing disorders. In fact, while 20% of the population has dyslexia, 80-90% of people
with learning disabilities have dyslexia.
Just last year, Ohio State University conducted a study to look more in depth at the
origins of mental illness. Their findings suggested that traumatic life experiences can
result in physiological imprints on the brain that cause anxiety and depression. For
students with dyslexia, this could be brought on by bullying, struggles in school,
unhealthy environments or the frustrations of being misunderstood.
But if the real question is about dyslexia being related to mental health, we want to
assure you of this: When a child or individual is given the love and support everyone
deserves, along with intervention and the proper tools to succeed, they can accomplish
anything and live life to its highest potential.