The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) is encouraging people with sight loss who might be experiencing feelings of anxiety to get in touch during Mental Health Awareness Week.
With this year’s focus ‘anxiety’, Mental Health Awareness Week runs until May 21.
People with a visual impairment are twice as likely to experience losing confidence in themselves and there are several resources available through RNIB’s Sight Loss Advice Service which provides practical and emotional support for blind and partially sighted people who are interested in wellbeing support.
Services include peer-to-peer support such as Talk and Support, Living Well with Sight Loss course and community Facebook groups.
Additionally, RNIB’s Mental Wellbeing Check-in service aims to provide support within 72 hours of contacting RNIB. Those referred will receive an hour-long call with a counsellor, allowing people to have a safe space to share their feelings and explore coping strategies.
People like Debra Roffey, 55, from Devon (pictured above), who was diagnosed with optical atrophy at an early age. She has experienced feelings of anxiety and isolation throughout her life and turned to RNIB’s Living with Sight Loss (LWWSL) support course.
LWWSL is a free, informal, community-based course which provides the opportunity to meet and talk to other people with sight loss. Debra has since felt more confident, empowered, and connected.
“Because of my sight condition I used to get extremely nervous about going out, especially without my husband,” said Debra. “It left me feeling isolated and limited by anxiety.
“At first, I was petrified of attending the call but there was no pressure to talk if I didn’t want to and after a while, I built up my confidence and began to talk about my experience living with a sight condition. Everyone on the call had a common goal and it felt good to be around other people who understood.”
The mental health hub on RNIB’s website also has several downloadable guides to help with loneliness, sleep difficulties, mindfulness and much more.
If you or someone you know could benefit from speaking to someone, or for tips on how to maintain your mental health, please visit rnib.org.uk/advice/sight-loss-and-wellbeing or call the Sight Loss Advice Service on 0303 123 9999.