We all know that it’s important to look after our physical health, but many of us forget to look after our mental health too.
It’s believed that people with learning disabilities are more likely to experience mental health problems than those without learning disabilities.
Research suggests the rate of mental health problems in people with a learning disability is double that of the general population (Cooper, 2007; Emerson & Hatton, 2007; NICE, 2016).
What is mental health?
‘Mental health’ is how we feel. We can feel happy, sad, scared, worried or depressed. These are all feelings to describe our mental health.
It’s normal to feel happy on some days and sad other days. If someone has lots of sad or unhappy days, they might need some help to feel happy again.
This is why it is so important that we know how to look after our mental health, and what to do if we need some help.
What’s the weather got to do with it?
In a Sunny Sessions interview with Vicky from Mind in Kingston earlier this week, she described mental health as an internal weather system.
In the morning, do you wake up feeling sunny, or stormy, or perhaps cloudy and grey? If you feel cloudy and grey most mornings, this might mean you need some help to feel sunny again.
If you have lots of cloudy and grey days, you might be suffering from depression. This video explains what depression is.
How can I help myself feel better?
In her interview, Vicky shared some great tips to help us look after our mental health:
Get some fresh air and keep active
Connect with friends or family. Perhaps a phone call or meet for a cup of tea
Eat well and include lots of fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet
Make sure you’re getting enough sleep
Treat yourself to things that make you happy. For example, listen to your favourite music, have your favourite sandwich for lunch or watch your favourite show
Why not try and include some of these tips into your everyday routine and see if they help you to wake up feeling sunny in the mornings.
Still feeling low?
If you are struggling to feel happy, there are lots of people and organisations who are there to help.
Call Mencap’s support line on 0808 808 1111
Call Mind’s information line on 0300 123 3393
Visit your GP
Tell a friend or family member
Tell your support worker if you have one
How can I support someone with a learning disability?
It is important not to dismiss someone’s feelings as simply being part of their disability. While it’s true that someone with a learning disability is more likely to experience mental health issues, it is not part of their learning disability and needs to be treated appropriately.
When supporting someone with complex needs, try using emojis – happy and sad faces to support them to express how they feel. For people with learning disabilities who can communicate through words, perhaps try the weather example above.
Epsom Mental Health and Wellbeing Festival
Local mental health charity, Love Me Love My Mind, are running their annual festival on 9th – 16th October 2021.
The theme is ‘We are all in this together’, with talks and discussions on a wide range of topics from feeling anger and fear to nutrition, immunity and mental health.
Take a look at the Love Me Love My Mind schedule of events here. In 2019, Sunnybank’s drama group, The Happy Kings and Queens, filmed a short film as part of Epsom’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Festival. Watch it here.
Life can be stressful and busy and can sometimes feel too much, so it’s very important that we’re kind to ourselves and look after our own wellbeing.