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Making World Mental Health Day Accessible for Everyone

Posted by Hannah Ashworth on October 10, 2022

This is an illustration promoting World Mental Health Day 2022. It's an image of a blonde woman with different coloured blobs floating out of her open mind. She looks relaxed and content.

World Mental Health Day is on October 10th. For over 70 years, the Mental Health Foundation have made it their mission to have mental health treated with the same urgency as physical health. They believe that, ‘We need to do as much as possible to prevent mental ill-health – as individuals and as a society’.

In response to the imbalance in physical and mental health funding following World War II and the establishment of the NHS, Derek Richter established the Mental Health Research Fund. As a keen scientist, Derek set up a wartime research laboratory to treat shellshock in soldiers.

Derek was particularly interested in how experiences and the environment we live in can shape our mental health, in addition to serving in a war. This method still influences the research done by the Mental Health Foundation to this day.

The theme of 2022’s World Mental Health Day is 'Make mental health and wellbeing for all a global priority'. This is something that we at Ability Superstore can really resonate with. As a retailer of mobility aids and daily living aids, our biggest priority is making things more accessible for everyone.

An image of a person standing to the right with a coffee cup. There is another person to the left who is using a wheelchair. They both have a hot drink and are engaged in a conversation.

Mental Health Challenges

Many people all over the world struggle with the challenges of mental health. Most people have, at points in their lives, experienced anxiety and depression or struggled with mental health issues.

The challenges that people struggling with mental health are faced with are not something to be taken lightly; some of the symptoms can be debilitating and negatively affect the quality of life, as well as severely impacting ability to perform daily tasks.

A lot of advice out there for people living with mental health difficulties includes things like going out for a walk, getting out and about in green spaces or going out with friends, but what if you can’t?

People living with disabilities can end up feeling isolated due to the fact that the environment around them disables them from partaking in the recommended mental health and wellbeing practices, which therefore impacts social inclusion.

Some disabled people even choose not to go out because of the stigma attached to simply existing, and even more so if a mobility aid is used.

Mobility aids such as wheelchairs, Zimmer frames, and walking canes are a useful tool for many people living with a disability, so we are trying our hardest to break down the stigma surrounding them.

The impact that disability can have on mental health is huge, but we’re here to let you know that you’re not alone.

A lot of people struggle with embarrassment due to being disabled, and this worsens when mental health needs aren't being met. A very interesting take on disability is what Scope have been saying:

"You have an impairment, but that isn’t who you are. You are not a burden or broken, the world around you was not built for you to exist in, and that is what makes a person disabled. If something isn’t accessible for everyone, it’s not accessible at all".

On this year’s world mental health day, we want to talk about disability and how you can care for your mental health in a way that’s accessible for all.

An image of a young woman using a wheelchair. She is reading a book and has a variety of houseplants around.

Top Tips from Ability Superstore

If you live with chronic pain or chronic fatigue, rely on a mobility aid, or are a deaf or blind person, it can be difficult to carry out day-to-day activities or pick up new hobbies to get some relief from the challenges of mental health.

We have a handful of suggestions for you to try. Something as simple as getting enough sleep can have a huge impact on your mental wellness. You could try starting up something called, “sleep hygiene”.

Sleep Hygiene

Sleep Hygiene is the practice of having both a bedroom environment and a daily routine that promote consistent, uninterrupted sleep. For example, my sleep hygiene routine includes having a caffeine-free hot drink before bed, and spraying the pillow with lavender sleep mist. This way, my body and brain know that I am getting ready for bed and will start winding down.

According to research, blue light emitted from cell phones, tablets, televisions, and computers may interfere with your body's ability to produce the sleep-promoting hormone melatonin. Furthermore, blue light may damage photoreceptors in the eyes. To avoid this, keep your screen time to a minimum in the evening and try to avoid completely 30 minutes before you go to bed.

Here are some sleep hygiene ideas for you to try if you feel up to it.

Light stretching or yoga, reading a good book, taking a hot bath, doing a skincare routine and listening to your favourite music are all activities that promote feelings of relaxation before bedtime. Making a hot or cold drink and snuggling up under a blanket or in your favourite pyjamas can all help to ease feelings of mental ill-health.

A woman with curly hair practicing self-care. She has a face mask on, a towel wrapped around herself and is brushing her teeth.

Mindfulness Techniques

There are lots of mindfulness techniques that you can use to help you feel better throughout the day, and they are an important part of mental health care. Apply some hand balm with a preferred scent, listen to some music, or have a moment of meditation to soothe your soul in addition to eating well and drinking plenty of water to keep yourself hydrated.

You can also aid your mental health by concentrating on your breathing.

If concentrating on breathing alone is challenging, move with the breath instead – sit down in a comfortable spot with your hands resting on your lap, palms facing up.

As you inhale, open your hands completely, and as you exhale, create a gentle fist. Keep observing your hands as you inhale and exhale and notice how your breathing calms down – this is excellent for distracting you from unhelpful thoughts.

Stretch it Out

Yoga is a fantastic way to practice self-care and improve your mental health. The combination of gentle stretching and breathwork can really be beneficial if you are looking to strengthen mental health care and address any mental health problems you may be facing.

 An illustration of a woman with a prosthetic leg stretching in a yoga pose. She is looking off to the left with her arms outstretched.

An individual with a chronic health condition or disability may experience physical health and mental health benefits from yoga's postures and breath-work. Yoga Asana can be performed while seated in a chair or wheelchair. In a yoga class for people with disabilities, the Asana movements are modified or adapted, and the instructor provides active assistance as required.

Body Scanning

Body Scanning is a fantastic way to tune into your body and mental health. Doing a body scan is a form of meditation, and it can be adjusted depending on what is comfortable for yourself. If you're going to do body scan meditation before bed, lying down is preferable. If you are uncomfortable or unable to do so, sitting down is also an option.

Allow your breathing to slow down and breathe from your abdomen rather than your chest. Focus your attention on your feet. If you experience discomfort, acknowledge it and any thoughts or emotions it elicits and breathe through it slowly. If you detect any unpleasant sensations, direct your attention on them.

As you inhale, visualize tension leaving your body and vanishing into the air. When you feel ready, proceed to the next part of your body. This is a fantastic way to take care of yourself and your mental health.

An illustration of someone meditating surrounded by colour.

Inclusivity in Mental Health Care

It may be impossible to make guided meditations and courses specific to every type of lived experience. Still, many disabled people say they'd welcome content that caters to their needs, not to mention content that uses more inclusive language. Mashable even wrote a blog on how most Mental Health services don't cater to disabled people.

"Mashable asked the meditation apps Calm, Headspace, and Ten Percent Happier if they provide courses specific to various types of disabilities. With the exception of a two-minute Headspace video on exploring disability and movement, none of them do. A spokesperson for Ten Percent Happier said it was "an area [we] are hoping to grow in the future."

As the theme of this year’s World Mental Health Day is 'Make mental health and wellbeing for all a global priority', we really need to be doing better! Anyone, at any time, can suffer with mental health problems, so why is it that disabled people don't seem to be catered for?

This is something that Ability Superstore are actively working on changing.

The team at Ability Superstore are really making a huge push towards making every activity inclusive for everybody. Keep an eye on our future social media posts and blogs. We'll be posting some simple changes you can make, and how mobility aids are fantastic tools for helping you engage in activities, because an impairment doesn't mean you should miss out.

An illustration of a group of disabled people all partaking in different sports and activities.