Friday, 24 May 2024
Friday, 24 May 2024

Sight loss can have a profound impact on mental health

BLIND disability activist Seema Flower who is visually impaired with only 2% vision calls for greater access to mental health support for people who are affected by sight loss. 

Blindness is a condition that affects around 2 million people in the UK, and it can have a wide range of causes.

Some people are born with visual impairments, while others may develop them later in life due to illness, injury, or age-related conditions. Regardless of the cause, sight loss can have a significant impact on mental health. According to the RNIB:

  • 31 per cent of blind and partially sighted people are rarely, or never, optimistic about the future.
  • Only 17 per cent of people experiencing sight loss are offered emotional support in relation to their deteriorating vision.
  • More than 4 in 10 people attending low vision clinics are suffering from symptoms of clinical depression.
  • People affected by sight loss were more than twice as likely to have experienced difficulties with unhappiness or depression than the UK average.

Seema Flower, aged 55 and from Buckinghamshire is one of the 100 most influential disabled people in the UK in 2020 according to the Shaw Trust Power 100 list.

Seema is the founder and MD of Blind Ambition and she is a driven and passionate advocate of equality and has been training organisations in disability awareness issues for over 25 years.

Seema said:

“It’s so important that conversations around mental health include people like me who are registered blind.

“In my experience of working with the visually impaired community, providing coaching and advocating for people with sight loss, it is extremely disturbing the number of people who experience social isolation, anxiety and depression as a result of sight loss.

“The lack of specialist emotional support from counsellors has a huge impact on people who are on a disability journey.

“We need more qualified professionals who understand sight loss.”

Blind Ambition offers a series of training sessions and consultancy on diversity and inclusion.

Seema recently ran an 8-week programme on confidence and resilience specifically designed for visually impaired people who are experiencing anxiety or depression as a direct result of sight loss.

The course was in partnership with London-based Dr Anneka Kumar, Clinical Psychologist.

Focusing on anxiety for this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week will increase people’s awareness and understanding of anxiety by providing information on the things that can help prevent it from becoming a problem.

RNIB say people who lose sight later in life can require emotional support to come to terms with and accept their sight loss.

RNIB’s Counselling team offers emotional support for those with sight loss RNIB offers emotional support for blind and partially sighted people through their Sight Loss Counselling team.

The NHS suggest if you’re blind or partially sighted, you may be referred to a specialist low-vision clinic, which is often located within a hospital. Staff at the clinic can help you understand your condition and come to terms with your diagnosis.

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