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Shining a light on limb difference for Mental Health Awareness Week

Mental Health Awareness Week 2021 this year takes place between 10-16 May. The annual campaign encourages everyone to think about their mental health and what might be impacting on it, as well as raising awareness and starting important conversations.

Limb difference and mental health

To mark this year’s campaign, we wanted to shine a light on the issue of mental health and the limb difference community, for whom the last 18 months have been a particularly challenging time.

Covid-19 and resultant lockdown measures have been tough for everyone but have disproportionately impacted on individuals with limb difference, such as by increasing isolation and raising fears around health.

While everyone’s experience has been different, having the right support network in place can make a huge difference. (And that’s true, whether we’re facing a pandemic or not!)

So, here, we wanted to highlight some of the support that is currently available and what we are doing at Koalaa to support our users. You can also find more inspiration on our ‘Cool blogs and resources’ web page.

What support is available?

Being part of a community that understands what you’re going through and knowing you’re not alone and others are in a similar situation with similar concerns, can be really beneficial for positive mental health.

Whether it’s connecting with other families, taking part in regular socials (either virtually or in person), or having somewhere to ask questions and vent frustrations, there are so many ways to do this.

Some fantastic charities are already doing great work in this space for both children and adults, including:

There are also a growing number of organisations offering support for veteran amputees and those who have been impacted by a particular condition or illness, such as:

The Koalaa Community

As for Koalaa, we’ve always seen the holistic support we provide as being as important as the prosthetics we design. We are building a community of users, who have a safe space in which to come together, connect and share ideas and experiences.

Sitting at the heart of that are our Koalaa Limb Buddies, who each have a personal experience of limb difference. They are there to listen, to advise, to answer questions and help the Koalaa community in any way they can.

We also hope that the tools we design open up new opportunities and give individuals the choice to pursue different passions and interests, if they so wish. Through our enabling prosthetics and support, we want to help users live life to the full.

4 steps to boost positive mental health

Aside from working on your support network, here are some other simple ideas for boosting mental health and wellbeing.

  • Speak up - Know that it’s okay not to be okay. You do not need to struggle in silence. There is always someone on the end of the phone who can help.

  • Stay active – Exercising produces endorphins, which can lift mood and improve your ability to deal with stress. Even doing a short burst each day is beneficial.

  • Get outside and into nature – Spending time in nature has been found to help with mental health problems including anxiety and depression. It can help you refresh and recharge.

  • Try new things - Research shows that learning new skills can also improve your mental wellbeing, so think of a new hobby you might try.

For more ideas, head to the NHS website and if you’re struggling right now and need support, here’s a list of mental health helplines. Remember, it’s okay not to be okay. You don’t need to do this alone.

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