Disability can all too easily lead to isolation. This can affect mental health and in some cases lead to depression, but there are so many ways it can be alleviated. Here are some tips to help disabled people combat loneliness and improve their social lives.
By Julian Race
Here are our top tips for avoiding loneliness:
Hobbies can involve getting together with like-minded people. Take birdwatching as an example: there are many local groups across the country that get together for talks or walks, meeting up to share something they are interested in and excited about.
Meeting up with others in clubs can help us to feel part of something bigger. There are national organisations that host groups such as the University of the Third Age (U3A) with over 1,000 groups with different themes nationwide for older people or the YMCA (again, nationwide but with different activities locally, such as sports and physical activities). Check locally, as each community will almost certainly have groups for people interested in art or history for example, or for people that just want to drop by and chat over a coffee. You may have to get in contact with them in advance and some will require a small fee to join.
Joining groups of people to chat on online forums has clear advantages regarding accessibility. Forums are held on all sorts of themes, for example, if you’re into films or want to share personal experiences. Furthermore, they allow users to be anonymous and require very little physical or full-on social exertion. The charity, Mind, has set up a group called Elefriends, enabling users to be themselves, listen, share and be heard.
Art and music
If you are musical there may be an opportunity to set up a group or band; a good ‘jam’ (just playing music together) is always fun and a good way to let off steam. Furthermore, an arty person might want to join up with people who use the same medium. For example, groups of people who work with textiles, lino-cutting or oil painting could meet up to share ideas and develop skills or to put on local exhibitions.
Lots of people benefit from having pets that they can spend time with. Pets encourage us to focus on taking care of them, while providing great company. Dog walks, for example, will certainly lead to a friendly network of other dogwalkers that live nearby.
Mind is a charity that provides advice and support to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem. They campaign to improve services, raise awareness and promote understanding.
For young people between the ages of 13 and 25 years, The Mix will connect you to experts and your peers who’ll give you the support and tools you need to take on the challenges you’re facing – their work covers mental health and loneliness.
Tel: 0808 808 4994
About Julian Race
Julian Race is a student from Surrey. A wheelchair user himself, he is gaining experience in journalism and is interested in writing about local environmental issues. This is his first piece for Able Magazine.