Dedicated to Improving the Lives of Blind and Visually Impaired People

May is Mental Health Awareness Month

by Jaime Rodriguez, RDPFS Intern

Mental Health Awareness Month in the United States, celebrated in May, seeks to break the stigma associated with mental health and treatment. Many people worry about their peers’ and neighbors’ perceptions of them when they seek mental healthcare. However, any type of discomfort or pain should be treated appropriately to feel better. First recognized by Mental Health America, this commemoration began in 1949. Clifford Whittingham Beers started this initiative based on the fact that every member of his large family suffered from mental illness. Having been hospitalized for mental illness, Beers wanted to end the stigma attached to mental healthcare and improve treatment of those affected. Many studies have found a connection between vision impairment and mental health. Some have suggested that “nearly one third of people with visual impairments and disabling eye diseases experience depressive symptoms.” Specific diagnoses are often associated with mental health issues. In one study, among newly diagnosed glaucoma patients, “roughly 35% of the study sample reported experiencing nervousness, anxiety, or stress…” People with vision issues are also often impacted by physical and other health problems which can lead to depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, phobias, and more. Age can be a factor as well. “Seniors with comorbid depression and vision impairment have higher rates of smoking, obesity, physical inactivity, and poorer evaluations of health, potentially resulting from depressive symptomology.” Some treatments have been developed to address these issues, although their availability and implementation have been limited. “Existing psychosocial interventions for improving mental health in people with visual impairment show some promise, but are limited by low adherence and lack generalizability.” It is important to “expand access to services to improve the detection and treatment of mental health problems” among those with visual impairment. To find out more about mental health and vision issues, check out the Clinical Ophthalmology journal article, “Visual Impairment and Mental Health: Unmet Needs and Treatment Options.” Resources for those dealing with mental health issues are available from such sources as the NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) Helpline,, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and SAMSA’s (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) National Helpline. More information about Mental Health Awareness Month is included on the National Today webpage titled, “Mental Health Awareness Month – May 2022.”

Building Mental Health-Friendly Workplaces: A Virtual Event on May 25, 2022

In honor of Mental Health Month, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) is hosting a free virtual event on May 25, 2022, at 2 pm EDT. Participants will learn about the DOL’s efforts to promote “mental health-friendly workplaces” and their commitment to ensuring that workers have access to “the equitable and inclusive mental health services they need.” Guests include Marty Walsh, U.S. Secretary of Labor; Julie Su, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Labor; Ali Khawar, Acting Assistant Secretary, Employee Benefits Security Administration; and Taryn Williams, Assistant Secretary, Office of Disability Employment Policy. Learn more and register here for Building Mental Health-Friendly Workplaces.