Raising awareness and promoting advocacy for mental health concerns

Dear blog reader,

What’s the weather like in your area? It’s slushy, cold and snowy here. Since cancelations seem to be the norm for this morning, I thought I’d write a quick blog entry. If we are Facebook friends, some of this may be a repeat so I’ll try to clarify some points. Recently I’ve had an interest in discovering whether or not there is a need for an interest group in the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) whose purpose would be to promote advocacy and education about either dual disabilities or mental health concerns. First of all, no way am I saying blindness is inherently related to mental health concerns, however I do believe as a blindness community we are not immune to these struggles. Humans are humans. If education and advocacy campaigns to raise awareness about some of these genetic predispositions occur in the general population, then why not attempt to address the needs within our organization? I realize lots of stigma may exist around these issues so not many people would be willing to openly discuss their personal struggles or thoughts, however I will say with some trepidation I’ve struggled with clinical depression and anxiety since my teen years. I do not see these characteristics of my personality as weaknesses, rather they have helped me become more empathetic toward anyone who may deal with similar issues.

Even though I have no clue if a need in this particular organization exists, it’s a discussion worth having sooner than later. For those who are new to blindness, let’s be cognizant of the grieving process they may be going through. While I wholeheartedly believe in and do my best to embody the NFB philosophy, we must acknowledge when one loses their sight there is a unique grieving process they go through. One can have all the confidents in the world, but if they have not accepted their disability the cycle will continue. I don’t believe all people, whether sighted or blind need therapy, but if they choose to seek out this service let’s continue to be supportive of their process. Let’s work to remove the stigma surrounding mental health concerns.

I’m curious to hear your honest thoughts. Do you think an interest group is warranted, or am I off kilter with this idea?

Until next time,

Anjelina

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