Blogger Becky Henley, who's partner Dan is a wheelchair user, writes about how important it is to talk about mental health.
On 6th February 2020 it’s Time to Talk day! A day which aims to raise awareness of mental health problems, and ‘encourage everyone to be more open about mental health- to talk, to listen, to change lives’. Anyone and everyone can experience mental health problems, at any time; nobody is immune. Someone might think they’re too tough, or too strong to experience things like anxiety or depression, but the truth is, it can creep up on you.
Although these issues don’t discriminate and they can affect any of us, there are some people who are more likely to struggle than others. Often, mental health problems such as anxiety and depression, come hand in hand with physical disabilities and chronic illness. Why? Well, there are lots of reasons.
A massive contributing factor is loneliness and isolation. Feeling either of these things can quickly and easily lead to depression. Imagine if you missed out on lots of social events because you couldn’t get into the venue. And then imagine you start losing friends because you see them less. It’s not hard to see how this could lead to you feeling low and anxious. This is just one example of the issues lots of disabled people face because of a lack of accessibility and the worries associated with that.
The charity Sense found that half of disabled people say that they’re lonely, and one in four feel lonely every day. This is a critical issue that needs tackling. So how can we start to do this? I think that talking is the first important thing. If you feel low, isolated, anxious, frustrated, angry… whatever… it’s important to talk about it! It’s not always easy to tell someone about these things openly and honestly- you might feel awkward, embarrassed, ashamed, or weak, but you are not alone! Telling someone how you feel can lift a weight off your shoulders. There will be someone who understands.
Secondly, I think making people aware of the tools that are out there to help is vital. Having detailed accessibility information and guides in one place makes a massive difference for disabled people. This is what AccessAble does. A website and a handy App with tens of thousands of venues listed. There have been numerous times that my fiancé (who uses a wheelchair) and I have been out and come across an unexpected physical barrier that has caused a problem and scuppered our plans. Things like wondering if the venue has an accessible toilet if there are any steps, how wide the doorways are… these can be stressful and anxiety-provoking.
When you’re out and want to be spontaneous but need detailed access information on restaurants, shops, and other places around you… that’s when you can quickly open up your AccessAble App and find the most suitable places nearby. It takes out the uncertainty, the anxiety and the panic of unknown areas. In turn, that makes you feel more in control, more informed, and better equipped to get out and about and enjoy yourself. And in turn, that is great for your mental health and wellbeing! This is just one of the tools that can help to make a difference.
Remember, it’s #TimeToTalk.
Oh, and to download the AccessAble app! ;-)