Dedicated to Improving the Lives of Blind and Visually Impaired People

May is Mental Health Awareness Month: “Where to Start” the Theme for 2024; Mental Health and Vision Loss

With the many changes occurring in the world, “it can be overwhelming to deal with everything going on around you.” In introducing this year’s commemoration of Mental Health Awareness Month in May, Mental Health America (MHA) notes that, although society is becoming more “comfortable discussing mental health,” it still can be difficult to know “Where to Start” to access care. This theme complements the messages conveyed by the National Eye Institute (NEI) for its annual commemoration of Healthy Vision Month, which is highlighting the connection between vision loss and mental health and covered in last week’s Bulletin. Vision loss is often associated with depression and anxiety, particularly in terms of the loss of visual function impacting the ability to perform activities of daily living. Psychological support, self-management techniques, and vision rehabilitation can improve mental health in people with vision impairment. Self-management of diabetes, for example, can reduce the onset of diabetes-related eye problems and lessen psychological complications. Vision rehabilitation offers tools and techniques that facilitate problem solving and learning skills to manage life with vision loss, factors that can positively impact mental health. Counseling and psychotherapy may be part of that process as well. Securing resources is key to addressing mental health and to fostering independence among people with vision loss. For additional details about Mental Health Month and “Where to Start: Mental Health in a Changing World,” including a link to toolkit with social media assets, printable handouts, and more, visit the webpage for Mental Health Month. Additional resources, including toolkits, on Mental Health Awareness Month are available from the National Alliance for Mental Health (NAMI) and from SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration). To find out more about vision loss and mental health, read the Mental Health Journal article on the Psychological Impact of Vision Loss and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Library of Medicine Clinical Ophthalmology piece on Visual Impairment and Mental Health: Unmet Needs and Treatment Options.