60 chapter 3: Mental health
Ask these questions before deciding on a treatment for mental illness:
• What is the purpose of each step in the treatment?
• What is expected to happen?
• If the person is not a danger to herself or
others, can she get mental health care
while living at home or living together
with others in her community?
Juanita, you don’t
need to worry
about anything. I
will look after the
• Will the family be involved in the
• Is the person providing treatment
respected in the community?
• Do any of the treatments cause side
effects, physical harm or shame?
The most important part of any treatment is the
support and care of family and friends.
If someone must be treated in a hospital, always ask for a tour of the facility
before leaving her there. Make sure the hospital is clean, that patients are safe
and can have visitors, and that they will get regular treatment with trained mental
health workers. Patients should be free to move about, unless they are a danger to
themselves or others. Also, make sure you find out what must be done to release the
person from the hospital later.
Mental health facilities can have the same barriers as other buildings and services
that make it difficult for people with disabilities to move around and communicate.
See pages 36 to 40 for ideas about improving access to all health services.
Working toward mental health
To build a better life, women with disabilities need health, education, and the
ability to move around independently and earn a living. But the difficulty in
achieving these goals can create challenges to your mental health. You usually do
not need treatment from a trained mental health worker to overcome most feelings
of depression, anxiety, or low self-esteem. There are ways you can help yourself and
ways you can begin to feel better with the support of another person or a group.
A Health Handbook for Women with Disabilities 2007