Disability and Mental Health
Mental illness is common for people with disabilities and a mental illness can be a disability alone.
Possible reasons that a disability can cause a mental illness
Lack of freedom
I am limited in the places I go. As an example I can't just go to a nightclub spontaneously.
Lack of accessibility in society can cause problems with freedom. Another problem would be lack of money; many people with disabilities can't afford to regularly go out to dinner for example.
Social isolation and loneliness
If you're limited in the places that you can go, you'll probably see fewer people.
I don't experience loneliness, I keep myself too busy. I expect that many people are different.
Lack of employment could be another reason that people feel isolated.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health undeveloped social skills can cause social anxiety disorder. If you don't see people often your social skills could be undeveloped.
Many people seek romantic relationships. If they fail to obtain them this could possibly negatively affect their mental health.
People with disabilities may feel discriminated against if they can't participate in activities. In addiction they may be part of other groups that may face discrimination. Discrimination may contribute to mental illnesses such as depression.
Many people who have disabilities earn less than the general population or are unemployed. I believe that this could impact their mental health negatively.
From conversations with disability advocates I gather that many disability advocates feel helpless and not listened to in their quest for advancing disability rights.
Abuse and Trauma
To my knowledge abuse occurs at a higher rate to people with disabilities and the trauma from this can affect their mental health.
I used to have low self-esteem myself and arguably still do in some areas.
People with disabilities may be insecure about different aspects of themselves. Low self-esteem can cause social anxiety.
According to the Centers For Disease Control people with disabilities have a higher rate of substance abuse. Addiction is regarded by many in the medical community as a "brain disease" and is commonly referred to as Substance Use Disorder.
People can also become addicted to pain medication that might be prescribed to handle their disability.
Below are different strategies that you can consider. Not all strategies will work for everybody.
Many doctors would recommend medications. I believe that due to the possible side effects they should be a last resort.
See if you can improve your life. This could be as simple as doing more of the things that you love.
On the more drastic side you can move to a different location. It's possible that your circumstances may not allow you to do this.
See if you can work in an area that you love. You could even volunteer your time depending if you want to do this.
You could also start a new project such as a blog or book. This may keep your mind busy.
Alternatively it's possible that you have too many commitments. Eliminating the ones that you like the least could help.
There may be coffee groups that you can go to if you believe interacting with people would improve your life.
If you aren't getting enough sleep then try to get more. Our article on how to get more sleep may help
The C.D.C. website also suggests that the news can be upsetting to people and they may want to turn it off occasionally. They give this advice for people going through a disaster but I believe many people find watching the news depressing. You could just watch it weekly or take a long break from it.
Recently I saw a friend posting on social media about his elimination of mainstream news consumption. He gave me permission to quote his post
"It has now been four weeks since I stopped watching New Zealand television news and I genuinely believe I'm in a better state of mental health."
Adjust your advocacy
If you're an advocate it's possible that you're doing too much. You may want to focus your energy on issues that have a higher likelihood of progress getting done.
You may want to go to fewer meetings. Some people find meetings boring. Alternatively you may want to suggest ways of making meetings more stimulating.
If there's too much negativity on your social media feed you could unfollow some people/groups.
Alternatively if you don't like others gloating about their life constantly then just block or unfollow such people.
You can also unfriend/block people who argue constantly with you. I have done this on occasion, but do try not to do it often. It's up to you how frequently you do this.
Some social media websites are more likely to have trolls, for example Twitter. You may be better off not responding to too many people on such websites.
Reducing time with toxic people
You may encounter toxic people in real life. You may want to reduce time with such people or cut them out of your life completely.
Meditation and relaxing
I like to keep myself busy but for many people meditation and relaxing can be a great way to relief stress.
There could be sounds that you can find online which you can utilize to relax. If you search on YouTube you may want YouTube Premium so you have an advertisement-free experience.
Many nights I listen to music for an hour before I go to bed. This helps me sleep.
You'd probably want to turn notifications off any time that you're relaxing.
Physical activity or going outside
For some people doing physical activity or going outside may brighten their day.
Of course this is not possible for everybody.
It may help to talk to a therapist. Not everybody has this option due to how mental health is funded in their location but you may want to look into this. These days you can get therapy over the internet if you'd prefer.
Seek out people
As stated above there could be be coffee groups that you can join but other groups also exist. Perhaps there's a disability sports group that you can join. A church might be an option for people of faith.
You can interact with people online too with video and audio messaging. This might be difficult for people who cannot talk, but from personal experience it's not impossible. Sometimes I have had conversations online with people who verbally communicated and I typed back to them.
Just using direct messaging could be an option too.
If you're having problem finding help for the above things you could ask local disability organizations or ask in Facebook groups. If you have a case manager/social worker then you could ask them.
You can also search the web for services.
Thanks for reading
I hope that this was helpful for you.