RNIB highlights wellbeing support

The charity outlined resources for blind and partially sighted people

blonde woman with guide dog

The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) has encouraged people with sight loss to reach out to the organisation.

Recognising Mental Health Awareness Week (15–21 May), which this year focused on anxiety, RNIB pointed to research which suggests that people with a visual impairment are twice as likely to experience losing confidence in themselves, and to also experience reduced happiness.

The charity highlighted wellbeing resources available through the RNIB Sight Loss Advice Service, which provides practical and emotional support for blind and partially sighted people.

Services include peer-to-peer support, such as Talk and Support, Living Well with Sight Loss course, and community Facebook groups.

RNIB’s Mental Wellbeing Check-in service also aims to provide support within 72 hours of contacting the charity, with those referred receiving an hour long call with a counsellor.

Emphasising the importance of maintaining healthy mental wellbeing, Amanda Hawkins, head of mental health and counselling at RNIB, said: “We want blind and partially sighted people to know that they are not alone.”

The wellbeing initiatives are supported by funding raised by players of the People’s Postcode Lottery, with more than £8 million raised to-date to support RNIB’s work. This includes counselling services work enabled by an award from the Postcode Care Trust.

The mental health hub on RNIB’s website also has downloadable guides on topics ranging from loneliness to sleep.

Debra Roffey (pictured), from Lamerton in Devon, was diagnosed with optical atrophy at an early age and has experienced feelings of anxiety and isolation.

Roffey was able to join RNIB’s Living with Sight Loss support course, which provides the opportunity to talk to other people with sight loss. She said of the experience that: “I built up my confidence and began to talk about my experience living with a sight condition. Everyone on the call had a common goal and it felt good to be around other people who understood.”

Encouraged by fellow course attendees to re-engage with her enjoyment for swimming, Roffey now swims regularly and completed the Swimathon Challenge.