WVU CED shares mental health life hacks for the disability community during Mental Health Awareness Month

Eric Murphy, mental health specialist at the WVU CED, shares info and mental health life hacks for people with disabilities

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Each May we celebrate Mental Health Awareness Month by sharing resources and normalizing conversations around mental well-being. Eric Murphy, mental health specialist at the West Virginia University Center for Excellence in Disabilities (CED), discusses the importance of prioritizing mental well-being and shares mental health life hacks for members of the disability community.

"In my role at the CED, I've witnessed how mental health often takes a backseat to addressing physical well-being. The mental health needs of individuals with disabilities are often neglected. However, when one dedicates time and effort to enhance their mental well-being and confront the underlying causes, the impact can be transformative,” said Eric Murphy, mental health specialist at the WVU CED.

“It's about shifting the way we process emotions related to disabilities or our children's needs, which unexpectedly enhances our overall quality of life.”

"At the CED, I guide aspiring counseling students, empowering them with the skills to effectively engage individuals with disabilities. As they embark on their future practice, encountering patients with disabilities becomes inevitable. Equipping them with the necessary preparation and training to authentically connect is paramount, extending beyond the confines of the classroom."

Murphy offers up some life hacks for maintaining good mental health for those in the disability community:

  • Find an exercise you enjoy, even if low impact, like yoga, tai chi or walking. Physical activity releases endorphins.
  • Connect with a local disability support group for friendship and shared understanding. Social connection strengthens mental well-being.
  • Use apps or websites to learn relaxation techniques like meditation, deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation. Find what works to reduce stress and anxiety.
  • Maintain a daily routine. Having a schedule provides stability and prevents isolation.
  • Ask for help from friends/family for tasks that strain your capabilities. No one can do it all alone.
  • Access telehealth options if transportation is a barrier to therapy. Online services expand access to care.
  • Write in a gratitude journal daily. Focusing on blessings boosts perspective and mood.
  • Address one small self-care item each day, like taking a bath or reading. Small pleasures matter.
  • Use technology and assistive devices to maintain independence. Independence fuels confidence.
  • Challenge negative self-talk with compassion. Acceptance of limitations promotes peace of mind.

Individuals with at least one reported disability, their families, the providers who serve them and/or individuals who are at risk for disability are eligible to receive mental health services from the WVU CED.

Learn more and make a referral: https://cedwvu.org/mental-health-services/