Navigating Intersectionality: Accessing Mental Health Support for Aged Care and Disability Support Recipients

As a recipient of at-home aged care or disability support services, your journey is unique, shaped by a combination of factors that make your experiences distinct. This intersectionality – where aspects such as age, disability, and mental health intersect – can create additional challenges in accessing the mental health support you need. Understanding these challenges is the first step in overcoming them and ensuring you receive the right support at the right time.

What is Intersectionality?

Intersectionality is a concept that explains how various aspects of a person’s identity combine to create different modes of discrimination and privilege. For aged care and disability support recipients, this means that age, physical or cognitive impairments, and mental health issues can intersect, leading to unique challenges that are not experienced by those with a single identity factor.

Barriers to Accessing Mental Health Support

Stigma and Misconceptions
Dual Stigma: People with disabilities or those requiring aged care services often face significant stigma. When mental health issues are also present, this stigma can double, making individuals reluctant to seek help. Society may sometimes inaccurately attribute mental health symptoms solely to the disability or aging process, which can overshadow the need for distinct mental health care.

Physical and Communication Barriers

Accessibility Issues: Physical barriers, such as buildings without ramps or elevators, can prevent access to mental health services. For those with communication impairments, traditional mental health services may not be adequate. This can include a lack of sign language interpreters or accessible communication tools.

Isolation: Physical disabilities can lead to isolation, making it more difficult to access community-based mental health resources or support groups.

Financial Constraints

Cost of Care: Disabilities often come with additional financial burdens due to medical expenses and specialised equipment. These costs can make it difficult to afford mental health care, which is often seen as an additional expense rather than a necessity.

Lack of Integrated Care

Fragmented Services: Health care systems frequently treat mental health and physical health as separate entities. This lack of integrated care means that neither the mental health issue nor the disability is fully addressed, leading to inadequate treatment.

Strategies to Overcome Barriers

Advocate for Yourself:

Speak Up: Communicate your needs clearly to health care providers. Let them know about any physical or communication barriers you face.

Seek Information: Educate yourself about your rights and available services. Knowing what you are entitled to can empower you to seek the care and support you need.

Utilise Technology:

Telehealth Services: Many mental health professionals offer telehealth services, which can be particularly beneficial if physical mobility is an issue. This allows you to receive care and support from the comfort of your home.

Assistive Devices: Use assistive technology to aid communication during mental health consultations.

Financial Support:

Funding and Grants: Explore options for financial assistance, such as government grants, NDIS funding, or community-based programs that provide financial support for mental health services.

Sliding Scale Fees: Look for mental health providers who offer sliding scale fees based on income, making therapy more affordable.

Community and Support Networks:

Support Groups: Join support groups for individuals with similar experiences. These groups can provide emotional support and practical advice for navigating health care systems.

Family and Friends: Lean on family and friends for support. They can help advocate for you and assist with logistics, such as transportation to appointments.

Talk To Your Support Worker: Your care or support worker from Careseekers can help you identify and access local mental health services tailored to your needs. They can provide information about available resources and help you navigate the system to find the right support. If physical mobility is an issue, your care or support worker can assist with transportation to mental health appointments, ensuring you can access the services you need without the added stress of arranging logistics. Having a trusted care or support worker who understands your unique challenges can provide significant emotional support. They can listen to your concerns, offer reassurance, and help you feel more comfortable seeking mental health care.

Beyond Blue
Black Dog Institute
Lifeline Australia

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