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Mental health includes our emotional, psychological and social well being.
Having mental health problems means being emotionally, psychologically and socially unhealthy.
Examples of mental health challenges include but are not limited to; anxiety, sadness, loneliness, isolation and social exclusion, fear, feeling helplessness, worthlessness, hopelessness and despair.
This can turn into depression and suicidal tendencies.
Warning signs; poor sleep patterns, self isolation, lack of interest in anything, mood swings, poor eating habits, low energy, pains and illness, dependency on drugs, alcohol or sex, forgetfulness,etc
As a big mental health advocate and as someone who has struggled with issues of mental health, it would be remiss if I didn’t discuss the need for openly talking about our struggles and silent battles whether we have a disability or not.
If You or someone you know, has depressive thoughts and symptoms, seek help in any way; speak to a friend, a trusted relative or professional help.
We should address mental health issues the same way we have addressed HIV/ AIDS, cancer and now #COVID19!
Little people are stigmatized, ridiculed and discriminated against by people of average height and those without disabilities.
I don’t think there is any little person who has not suffered verbal abuse while 80% of us have been physically abused at least once in our lives.
On top of this we find life challenging because of the physical environment being disabling but also the chronic pains that most LPs have and trauma from having multiple surgeries for those of us with orthopaedic problems.
Depression is very common although rarely, talked about in the African setting and sadly in the disability and dwarfism communities, we don’t speak about it.
Suicide is also common though not given the attention it warrants within our communities.
If a person without dwarfism or with disability kills themselves, society including the media doesn’t take it as a huge deal compared to when a person without disability kills themselves.
It’s like we are not that useful and therefore our death is not a big deal and can even be looked at as a mercy for us.
But most of our people are facing mental health problems. And most of these come from the way society looks at and treats us.
From the staring to the being overlooked and undermined, to abuse and bullying.
We therefore need to have a meaningful discussion about bias and discrimination.
You should all do a whole lot better but also teach those around you to do better too.
If you can, support the conversation about mental health among persons with disabilities including Little people.
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