24th October 2019
World Mental Health Day fell on Thursday 10th October, but it is important to talk about mental health all year round. A lot of us will struggle with mental health difficulties at some stage in our lives, and a lot of amputees are likely to suffer with challenging emotional and psychological issues that come as a result of losing a limb. It is vital that resources are signposted to those who are in need, and that we champion the importance of mental as well as physical well-being.
Each person who loses a limb will experience different reactions and feelings, given that amputations can occur at any age and under a variety of circumstances. Even so, a widely discussed concept is that amputees will not only feel that they have lost a part of their body, but a part of themselves. Jeanne E. Dise-Lewis mentions in her article Psychological Adaptation to Limb Loss: “the loss of any body part is a serious threat to the individual’s core identity, as it shakes the foundation on which this identity is built.” With this in mind, psychological support for amputees becomes even more critical in helping individuals through the emotional journey of rehabilitation and adjusting to life with a limb absence.
A large part of the problem for those suffering with a mental health issue is feeling scared or embarrassed to ask for help because of the surrounding stigma, but losing a limb can involve the same level of grievance as the loss of a loved one and it should be treated with the same mentality. It is vital that amputees are able to talk about how they feel in order to avoid an unpleasant build-up of emotions. Being faced with negative thoughts is not a sign of weakness, but something that we all experience, and can be relieved through proper communication and care. With more discussion and awareness, we can break the stigma surrounding mental health.
The NHS can offer counselling, talking therapy services and support groups that can assist with distressing thoughts and feelings. At a local level, amputees are encouraged to speak to their own healthcare professionals in order to find the resources that are available to them.
We support a range of national charities which can provide support and advice for living with limb difference:
If you think that someone needs help, encourage them to speak out and direct them to the resources available. Let’s not be ashamed to talk about mental health.
At Ortho Europe, we strive to ensure that our devices are robust, effective, and allow you to lead the best possible life. If you feel that you are unsatisfied with your device or it is causing you any problems, please speak to your prosthetist. Be vocal about any doubts or concerns, and remember that you can always browse the products we have available here.