Mental Health Benefits of Independence for People with Disabilities

Many people with disabilities (PWDs) struggle to manage all their affairs independently. They rely on the support of family members, friends, or caregivers to help them complete household chores, personal care, employment, social interactions, and community participation. Although PWDs highly regard independence, it can be inhibited by caregivers.

This especially happens if the support system lacks enough time, so they take over activities instead of supporting and encouraging PWDs to complete them. This robs PWDs of the opportunity to learn new skills that could potentially increase their autonomy.

Here is a list of some of the ways independence can affect your mental well-being.

1. Improved Self-Confidence: Achieving self-confidence as a PWD can be difficult. In a society that emphasizes looks, speed, and sameness, PWDs often feel out of place. Discrimination and stereotypes make it hard to maintain self-esteem. One key solution to boosting self-confidence is to increase independence.

By reducing reliance on other people, it becomes easier to believe PWDs are not a burden to their family and community. It also allows people to view a disability as just one component of life.

2. Lower Chances of Depression: Research shows that there is a direct correlation between diminished autonomy and depression. A sense of helplessness and uncertainty comes with declined physical abilities. If not addressed, these feelings can result in depression. Social isolation can also trigger depression. Being excluded from social activities can diminish your sense of self-worth. Some may even turn to alcohol and substance abuse to cope.

3. Increased Sense of Self-Worth: Everyone needs a purpose. A lack of independence can lead to isolation and a feeling of worthlessness. By being independent you can actively volunteer and contribute to friends, families, and the community. Setting and achieving independence goals, tackling unique challenges, and overcoming different situations creates a sense of accomplishment.

4. Improved Social Relations: Autonomy is integral in improving social relations. Without social interaction you increase feelings of isolation and loneliness. A limited level of independence can cause people to refrain from asking for help in attending social events or participating in social gatherings. Increasing independence can help PWDs go out and socialize more often. For example, PWDs can more easily connect with their peers during organized sports, activities, and camps. They can connect with others on social media, finding others that have similar disabilities and enjoy that shared camaraderie. It can help establish a support network.

5. Improved Moods: PWDs who have more control over their lives are often happier. They have a more positive outlook towards their lives and tend to be more optimistic.

6. Improved Cognitive Functioning: A decline in cognitive functioning is often associated with an increased risk of developing dementia. Increased independence can help PWDs maintain their cognitive functioning. With independence

they can engage in activities that help keep their minds active and help keep their memories sharp.

7. Enhanced Sleep Quality: PWDs often experience sleep disorders such as insomnia. They have difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep, especially if they’re fully dependent on others. Increased independence can help PWDs sleep better. That autonomy allows them to establish their own regular sleep schedule and stick to it. It’s easier for them to set up a comfortable sleeping environment that promotes better rest and relaxation.

Improved mental health is just one of the benefits forPWDs who have greater independence. It creates a better quality of life by being involved in their community, and ultimately lead happier and healthier lives.