68 chapter 3: Mental health
Families and communities can promote
Families that encourage and build on the strengths of girls and women with disabilities
promote their mental health. The way your family and community treats you shapes
how you value yourself. When family and community expect you to do well at things
and want you to do your best, you will likely grow up with a strong sense of self-esteem,
be strong in your inner self, and learn that you are capable.
Families and communities need to:
• recognize disabled women and girls as fully contributing members.
• show by example that they value and accept girls as much as boys, and disabled
girls and women as equally as others.
• support girls with disabilities during the teenage years when they change from
girls to women. They need the same knowledge and treatment as other girls in
their community. It is important they be encouraged to dress according to their
age and recognize their sexuality as young women.
• support girls and women with disabilities who have mental health problems.
Families, teachers, health workers and others can all help by focusing on what
you can do rather than what you cannot do, such as:
• believe you can live a happy and fulfilling life, and contribute to your
• encourage you to try new things and do things for yourself, instead of over-
protecting and doing everything for you.
• make sure you help at home and contribute to the family business.
From the time I was a
little girl, I wanted to
be a doctor. My parents
believed in me. They told
me I could do anything
I wanted and helped me
to realize my dream.
A Health Handbook for Women with Disabilities 2007