What is Mental Disability?

It is a generalised disorder for over 18’s characterised by diminished cognitive or intellectual ability and the inability to acquire the skills needed to function independently in society.

Intellectual disability is caused by physical, genetic and social factors. Persons diagnosed with intellectual disability can be assisted to reach their full potential and to cope with the more complex aspects of daily living. Mental or intellectual disability is a permanent condition.

So what is Psychiatric illness? It is a mental or emotional disorder diagnosed by a psychiatrist affecting brain function and thinking patterns, behaviours, communication, the way a person feels and acts, sometimes having inappropriate behaviour i.e. depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia etc. It can affect anyone and is usually diagnosed in early adulthood. It is not clear what causes mental illness but the contributing factors can be psychological, environmental, genetic or biological. Psychiatric illness needs ongoing treatment, support and rehabilitation groups. This usually goes together with medication and, with the right support, can lead to healthy productive lives.

What is Mental health? It is defined by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as a state of mind of well-being, where their abilities are realized and persons cope with normal stresses of life. Persons can work productively and are able to make a meaningful contribution to society- “Durban and Coastal Mental Health Society”

So when we talk about having good mental health it is basically assisting persons to cope with the daily onslaught of life in a constructive manner. There is still so much stigma surrounding mental health, intellectual disability and psychiatric illness in our society - we need to be aware of how we ourselves contribute to or break down the stigma.

At Cluny Farm we believe that each person has the ability to contribute in his/ her own way to society and we do not treat people differently or special. Persons have basic human rights to be observed and we believe this can be achieved by cultivating inclusion and not just integration.

The rights of persons with disabilities

  • The right to respect and dignity
  • The right to not be discriminated against
  • The right to education and training in order to reach their full potential
  • The right to be protected against abuse
  • The right to confidentiality
  • The right to decision making
  • The right to self-advocacy to express themselves and be heard
  • The right to participate in decisions around treatment
  • The right to expect fair treatment


Cluny Farm Centre is a registered and compliant Non Profit Organisation situated in Sunvalley, Kyalami, Johannesburg. The Centre is a non-racial facility that provides both residential and day care services to our beneficiaries.

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69 Rose Road
Kyalami, Midrand
South Africa