Highlighting disability and the importance of accessibility with Mental Health charity, Mind

Hi everyone- it’s been a while! Since I last blogged I’ve actually had a baby and so have a heck of a lot of blogs in the works- especially around being a disabled parent. Just before I had my baby, I had the opportunity to work with UK Mental Health charity, Mind as their Summer Magazine guest editor.

I’ve been a Mind supporter and member for a few years and was really keen to use the chance to talk about dealing with physical and mental disabilities and to highlight the importance of accessibility. I was able to help choose topics for the magazine and write an opening article, plus help create content for the gaming for mental health feature. Obviously, I can’t share the full magazine but Mind were happy for me to share my opening article which I hope you enjoy!

Read my ‘Meet the Guest Editor’ article…

This image shows my guest article for Mind, a photo of Ruthy in a blue galaxy dress is shown and another of her in a costume as a lord of the rings character. The article reads 'Issue 44, Summer 2021 Meet Ruthy, our guest editor Mind members stop at nothing to highlight the mental health issues they care about most. This issue’s guest editor Ruthy - a dedicated cosplayer - is no exception. She took control of this magazine right up to the birth of her first child (congratulations Ruthy!) and you can see the results in all of the articles marked with the ‘Guest editor’s choice’ badge throughout your magazine. Mind Membership News: Guest editor’s choice Hi everyone, I'm Ruthy and I'm thrilled to be your summer guest editor! Throughout this issue you’ll find articles I’ve chosen on subjects from video games to bipolar disorder, but I’m really excited to have the chance here to highlight two other areas: the crossover between physical disabilities and mental health, and the importance of accessibility. Physical and mental health are two sides of the same coin and absolutely impact each other. Unfortunately, though, all too often they get split in two, which can make finding the right support difficult. Personally I have bipolar disorder and also live with seizures and ME. When I’m having a bad pain or fatigue flare, my mental health suffers. If I’m having a worse time with highs in my bipolar disorder, my seizures get more frequent. My belief is that more support is needed for many people who are trying to balance complex physical and mental health problems. For example, many of the talking therapies offered by the NHS are amazing, but for people like me they’re not always the solution. I needed longer monthly talking therapy, which I had to pay for privately. Managing multiple conditions also requires a lot of self-management and self-care. Another topic I wanted to raise here is accessibility – a big topic recently! With millions of people shifting to work from home, accessibility adjustments have been made that many people were previously denied. I’ve actually found it incredibly frustrating to watch as many places proved they could accommodate remote working – but simply hadn’t wanted to in the past. Why did it take a global pandemic for changes to be made? In the past, I think this lack of willingness to accommodate people’s needs has meant many capable people with physical and mental health conditions found themselves unable to work. Generally, making things accessible isn’t difficult, but when people asked for adjustments they could be made to feel as though they were awkward, a burden or didn’t have value – which just isn’t right. As things hopefully open up again, and many offices return to in-person working, I think it’s really important that we learn from the past year. We have proved so many jobs can be done remotely. The message I’d love to pass on to people who want changes to be made is you are worth the accommodations you need for your mental and physical health – please don’t give up asking! Mental health and me I feel happiest when... I’m listening to a good audiobook or playing a videogame with my cats curled up beside me. The thing that's helped me most during lockdown is... keeping active! I’ve had so much nervous energy that exercise has been really important. I'd like to bust the myth that... People with bipolar disorder aren’t dependable. Many people manage this condition really well. Have a little faith before coming to conclusions! In the future, I'd like to see... conversations around awareness for mental health move on to being more about actual support and life-balance changes, with greater acceptance of mental health days off.

Mind Membership News: Guest editor’s choice

Hi everyone, I’m Ruthy and I’m thrilled to be your summer guest editor! Throughout this issue you’ll find articles I’ve chosen on subjects from video games to bipolar disorder, but I’m really excited to have the chance here to highlight two other areas: the crossover between physical disabilities and mental health, and the importance of accessibility.

Physical and mental health are two sides of the same coin and absolutely impact each other. Unfortunately, though, all too often they get split in two, which can make finding the right support difficult. Personally I have bipolar disorder and also live with seizures and ME. When I’m having a bad pain or fatigue flare, my mental health suffers. If I’m having a worse time with highs in my bipolar disorder, my seizures get more frequent.

My belief is that more support is needed for many people who are trying to balance complex physical and mental health problems. For example, many of the talking therapies offered by the NHS are amazing, but for people like me they’re not always the solution. I needed longer monthly talking therapy, which I had to pay for privately. Managing multiple conditions also requires a lot of self-management and self-care.

Another topic I wanted to raise here is accessibility – a big topic recently! With millions of people shifting to work from home, accessibility adjustments have been made that many people were previously denied. I’ve actually found it incredibly frustrating to watch as many places proved they could accommodate remote working – but simply hadn’t wanted to in the past. Why did it take a global pandemic for changes to be made?

In the past, I think this lack of willingness to accommodate people’s needs has meant many capable people with physical and mental health conditions found themselves unable to work. Generally, making things accessible isn’t difficult, but when people asked for adjustments they could be made to feel as though they were awkward, a burden or didn’t have value – which just isn’t right. As things hopefully open up again, and many offices return to in-person working, I think it’s really important that we learn from the past year.

We have proved so many jobs can be done remotely. The message I’d love to pass on to people who want changes to be made is you are worth the accommodations you need for your mental and physical health – please don’t give up asking!

Mental health and me

I feel happiest when… I’m listening to a good audiobook or playing a videogame with my cats curled up beside me.

The thing that’s helped me most during lockdown is… keeping active! I’ve had so much nervous energy that exercise has been really important.

I’d like to bust the myth that… People with bipolar disorder aren’t dependable. Many people manage this condition really well. Have a little faith before coming to conclusions!

In the future, I’d like to see… conversations around awareness for mental health move on to being more about actual support and life-balance changes, with greater acceptance of mental health days off.’

If you’d like to read more of the Magazine, please consider supporting Mind in their work for mental health by becoming a member here. I was really happy to be able to write for Mind and hope to keep highlighting the impacts physical and mental health have on each other and as always, continue the fight for accessibility!

Until the next time…

Ruthy xo

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