Below, find an ever-growing menu of free resources and ideas for maintaining mental health with a disability.
Using insurance for therapy
If you’re disabled and have insurance for a health condition, you might also have mental health coverage. Don’t lose out on those benefits! Check out this article for help using insurance for therapy.
Finding a disability-friendly therapist
First, find a list of in-network providers through your insurance’s website. A social worker, licensed counselor, clinical psychologist, or even psychiatrist may help you.
In your insurance portal, may have to use “Advanced” filters to narrow the results. Make sure to specify in person/remote, gender, language, accessibility concerns, or any other criteria important to you.
Once you have a list, search each name to find the provider’s website or other profile. Look for keywords like “accessibility,” “ableism,” “health problems,” “disability.” Some therapists share their personal background and may disclose firsthand experience with disability–ideally, you talk to someone who knows what it’s like!
Email one or two promising providers to chat and see who fits best. You should feel heard and they should not pass judgment without asking questions. It’s ok to explore and “shop” for the right therapist.
Utilizing government programs
Government disability resources go beyond SSDI. You’re most likely to find assistance from state or local resources.
The Department Of (Vocational) Rehabilitation, or DOR in your state may offer resources to help support you. The goal of the DOR is to help you build a life that minimizes the impact of your disability. They can connect you to career training, help you find the right job for your disability, provide occupational therapy services to optimize activities of daily living, and help you manage all the moving parts.
Also check out The Job Accommodation Network (a government hub providing resources for people with disabilities seeking jobs).
Exploring accessible nature resources
Many states, counties, and cities have accessible public transportation into nature. Choose a regional, state, or national park that has accessible trail access. Then, plan your trip around the accessible parts of the park. Sites like DisabledHikers.com compile resources and wisdom to feel confident going into nature.
People with disabilities often receive discounted rates to access parks and attractions. Given all the extra expenses that come with disability, this gesture makes a huge difference in helping disabled folks get out into nature.
All that said, trips out “into nature” require massive energy that we disabled people don’t always have. Spoons are low, but you still need a mental health boost from nature. What can you do? Take advantage of urban (or suburban) nature.
There can be just as much wonder in weeds on the sidewalk as in majestic towering redwoods. For mental health, stop and examine whatever’s around you. Notice the way the leaves dance. Trace the movements of tiny bugs working together. Distract yourself by learning the names of the plants and animals you see. Even in the city, they’re there!
Where should I start?
There are a lot of mental health resources for disability above. But now, where to start?
One problem with disability is that it causes…a lot of problems. It touches so many aspects of your life, that taking action becomes difficult. You can feel frozen and unable to take advantage of any resources at all.
If you’re stumped and don’t know where to start, talk it out with understanding people. Peers are here to chat and help clarify your options.