Mental Health in the disability community and why receiving support is so important.

Living with a disability can have a deep effect on your mental health. There was a recent study that showed that adults with disabilities report to experiencing frequent mental distress almost 5 times as often as adults without disabilities. In Australia over 4.4 million people have some form of disability – that is 1 in 5 people. This could be your cousin, neighbour, friend, sister or even your parent. This is why mental health should be a huge discussion in the disability sector as mental health affects many people with disabilities not just participants living with psychosocial disabilities.

Poor mental health for people with disabilities can occur due to loneliness. People living with a disability are more likely to be alone at least partially because of ableism and social neglect. Many people with disabilities can live fairly solitary lives in the best of times as there environment can lack social inclusion or acceptance. This is why the NDIS is so important and linking people living with a disability with the right supports; this can include the correct support coordinator and LAC, the right allied health professionals, and a suitable support worker. Linking participants with the right support worker can enhance their lives in many ways. A support worker can be there to help participants with tasks like personal care and community access but something that isn’t so often talked about is the way that support workers can give participants a sense of companionship and social connection. Having a reliable support worker who shows up on time, is dedicated to helping participants achieve there goals, spends time to get to know the participants likes and dislikes and is there to support them can be crucial to supporting participants mental wellbeing.

Another aspect that can directly affect participants mental health is lack of access to the community and lack of being able to be involved in the community directly. Social barriers to disability are related to where someone grows up, learns, and works – their employment, education, income, and safety in the home.  It is stated that people living with disabilities are less likely to receive certain jobs or complete high school and are at a higher risk of experiencing family violence then those without a disability. With participants having the correct supports in place and being connected to various community activities through there Support Coordinator or LAC it is giving people living with disabilities the chance to reach there highest potential and achieve life goals like a higher education, a stable career and income and being safe and comfortable in the home.

At FBA Care we want to encourage mental health to be a more of a two-sided conversation.

Below we have 5 small tasks you can add to your daily routine that can help improve aspects of your mental wellbeing:

1. Getting enough sleep.

Did you know that most people spend 1/3 of their life sleeping? This is super important as our sleep can help boost our immune system, can improve our concentration and productivity levels and can help you maintain a healthy weight.

2. Keeping active.

Much like sleep, keeping physically active can help boost your mental wellbeing. When we are active it boosts our level of serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter which carries messages between the nerve cells in your brain and throughout your body and these chemical messages tell your body how to work! When we exercise our body releases this healthy chemical throughout our body and it helps-boost our mood and overall improve our mental wellbeing. For participants living with a physical disability keeping active can mean actively attending physiotherapy appointments and using the strategies provided by the physio at home to enhance their physical well-being.

3. Having a balanced diet.

Every single year more and more information is coming out regarding how your diet is linked to your mental wellbeing. Eating a well-balanced and healthy diet that contains the necessary fats, fibres, and nutrients can help you manage your anxiety levels, improve your sleep, and positively impact your ability to concentrate and participate.

4. Setting realistic short term and long-term goals.

We all know that the whole idea of having a NDIS Plan is to help achieve short term and medium-long term goals and each NDIS Plan to try and achieve these goals, but did you know that achieving small goals, even just completing small daily tasks that you have been struggling to achieve, leads to a great sense of accomplishment and self-worth. Writing a daily/weekly/monthly goal list can lead to a tremendous sense of achievement and helps boost your mental health as it leaves you with the feeling of accomplishment.

5. Practise mental health exercises.

When you engage in actively improving your mental health it may seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be! Taking small steps towards improving your mental health on the daily can make a big difference over time. Even if you just choose one mental health activity to participate in for even 20-30 minutes a day. Some small mental health activities that can help make a big difference. Some examples of this are; journaling, meditation, listening to music, stretching, laughing and spending time in the sun.