Let’s Talk: Arthritis and Mental Health and Well-Being

People who live with arthritis experience anxiety and depression at a higher rate than the general population.[1] I am one of those people, both in terms of the arthritis and the mental health issues.

Over my 50-year “career” with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) I have spent a lot of time feeling depressed. Like the 30% of the people with RA who are depressed, I have also thought of suicide. Living with high levels of chronic pain and progressive disability can really do a number on your head.

I am happy to say that I haven’t been depressed in a really long time. In fact, I’ve been feeling really good from a mental health perspective. And then there was that sidetrack of a medical adventure last Spring that is now reacquainting me with anxiety and has introduced me to life with PTSD. It’s always something…

Mental health and physical health cannot be separated. They exist together and it is important to pay attention to both of them, especially when you live with a chronic illness like arthritis. Today is Bell Let’s Talk day, which was created to break the silence around mental illness and to support mental health across Canada. And it’s the perfect time to talk about arthritis and mental health. 

Arthritis and Mental Health and Well-Being 

The Arthritis Society has just launched a new online course called Arthritis and Mental Health and Well-Being, which aims to minimize the impact of arthritis on mental health. And it is open to everyone, not just Canadians! Earlier this week, I spoke to Deanna Bowlby, Senior Manager of Education at the Arthritis Society about the module.

“More research is showing that emotional and mental health is connected to the process of your disease,” Deanna said. She also told me about the patient empowerment survey done by The Arthritis Society last year showing that mental health, depression, and anxiety are very much a concern for people who live with arthritis. Moreover, it is often overlooked.

As more and more individuals with chronic illness become empowered, the focus has increasingly shifted to self-management of the diseases with which we live. This online course is another tool that focuses on helping people self-manage their disease. 

Arthritis and Mental Health and Well-Being takes you through several chapters dealing with mental health and how it is impacted by a chronic illness. There is a specific focus on information about how living with arthritis can affect your mood, sometimes significantly, and what you can do to manage your mental well-being. Additionally, there is information about when to seek help.

“When you live with chronic illness, you have your own toolkit or resources to manage the disease. We hope that this can become part of your toolkit,” Deanna told me. The Arthritis Society believes that is important for people with chronic illness to “know that if feelings are real and valid and they are not alone help is available,” she said.

I went through the course myself and was very impressed with the quality of information, and the approach to teaching self-management of mental health. I believe this can be tremendously helpful to people living with arthritis and other forms of chronic illness.

Nurturing your mental health will help you be able to think, feel, and act in ways that enhance the enjoyment of your life, as well as assist you in dealing with the challenges of life with chronic illness. I believe that Arthritis and Mental Health and Well-Being can be an important tool in improving your ability to cope.

[1] Arthritis Community Research and Evaluation Unit (ACREU), Arthritis in Canada (prepared for The Arthritis Society, 2013)


Rick said…
I have also battled depression for many years. I am currently well treated and I know how thankful I am to say those words. Thank you for highlighting this issue.
best essay said…
I battled clinical depression for 2 years or so and it was the most dreadful experience ever but thank God it is over.All those in pain I would like to ask them to hang in there,it gets better !

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