Following a lot of discussion around mental health and disabilities- originally brought up by @William_Chin. I thought i’d share my experience and then how you can help and understand these important society issues a little bit better.
So in my personal life, I am Dyslexic and I also have ADHD. Both of these things make me struggle in school and those of you in my VA know that my spelling is always really bad and I always have to spell check everything 3-4 times before posting. Of course there are a lot of disabilities around and I sadly cannot comment on every single one of them however I will tell you guys a bit about the ones which are most common in society today. I do believe that if the IFC and IF adjust to helping people with disabilities and make them feel part of this community, it would give people a chance to engage more and find happiness on this forum.
The formal definition by the mayo clinic is that- Dyslexia is a learning disorder that involves difficulty reading due to problems identifying speech sounds and learning how they relate to letters and words (decoding). Also called reading disability, dyslexia affects areas of the brain that process language.
Ways it may affect people on the community and how you can help them :
VA Entry tests are a huge struggle to do. Perhaps if you are a VA Staff Member you can make special arrangements or possibly even change your entry process to make it better and easier for people with Dyslexia to enter your VA. I know I’m put off when I see long written questions- and it’s even more off putting to be told that your answer isn’t good enough.
Don’t correct people’s spelling- It’s a huge self esteem blow for a Dyslexic to be called out on their spelling and can affect how they approach the forum in the near future.
If a long post is made, perhaps make a summary feature at the end. This way Dyslexic people can process this information a lot easier and a lot simpler than reading an entire paragraph.
If you’d like to find out more about Dyslexia there is a few links:
The formal definition is that Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a chronic condition that affects millions of children and often continues into adulthood. ADHD includes a combination of persistent problems, such as difficulty sustaining attention, hyperactivity and impulsive behavior.
Ways it may affect people on the community and how you can help them :
- There isn’t a lot of things that people can do on a online forum to support someone with ADHD but the one thing that comes to mind is to be respectful and read up about it
If you’d like to read more about ADHD there are some links here:
I know a lot of you will agree with me that throughout the pandemic, everyone in the community has at some point felt blue. However I find it concerning when I find members on this forum constantly arguing about silly things, remember if you can only do one thing on the forum just be kind and understand what other people are going through.
With the ever changing situation around the world it is normal to feel anxious at some point within your daily life. But people with anxiety disorders experience frequent and excessive anxiety, fear, terror and panic in regards to everyday situations. These feelings are unhealthy if they affect your quality of life and prevent you from functioning in a normal manner.
How can you support someone who is feeling anxious?
If someone is feeling anxious, the worst thing is to say something like, ‘I can’t believe you’re worried over something like that’. The best way to help someone with anxiety is to ask them what you can do to help them. This may be a flight on one of their favourite routes or just a general conversation about football or sport over the IFC direct messages section.
Please also know when to seek help and don’t be afraid to seek help!
Here are some links if you would like to learn more about anxiety:
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) features a pattern of unwanted thoughts and fears (obsessions) that lead you to do repetitive behaviors (compulsions). These obsessions and compulsions interfere with daily activities and cause significant distress.
Ways it may affect people on the community or in your personal lives and what you can do to help them:
Remember that their fears are very real to them, even if they seem unrealistic, irrational or extreme to you.
Don’t judge. It can be upsetting to hear about some obsessive thoughts, but if you act shocked or judge them, they will be less likely to share their thoughts and feelings with you in future. Make it clear that support them regardless.
Find out as much as you can about OCD. This will help you understand what they are going through
If you would like to learn more about OCD here are a few links:
As I mentioned before these uncertain times are giving everyone that moment of feeling down and upset but if the feelings are interfering with your life and don’t go away after a couple of weeks, or if they come back over and over again for a few days at a time, it could be a sign that you’re experiencing depression.
How can you help someone in your personal life or on the forum?
Be kind at all times - the best way you can help someone on the forum is to be kind and uplift the person. I can think of many IF related things that may cheer someone up- either exploring new scenery or trying out a new route in an underexplored place in the world. Anything you can do to make them feel better about themselves would benefit them so much!
Be patient- if someone is experiencing depression don’t think just because they are getting help means they will overcome depression quickly. Being patient and taking it steady is the right way to go.
Ask them what you can do to help- this is honestly the best way to help someone. You have to see what they are prepared for you to do and help them with.
Remember- please make someone aware if you are ever concerned about your friend or person who is experiencing depression.
Here are some links so you can learn more about depression:
Takeaways- 5 b’s
- Be kind- a small amount of kindness each day can massively improve someone’s mood
- Be respectful- if someone has an opposing view to you there is really no need to start having a go at them for it. This really could build up stress for the person
- Be welcoming- if someone is new to the community, don’t make them feel like a stranger. Welcome them in straight away, offer to do a flight with them or just simply chat to them.
- Be understanding- if someone is going through a lot in their lives, offer support and ask them what they want you to do to help them.
- Be supportive- tiny things such as flying ability and a good landing will boost someone’s mood almost instantly. Tell them their landing was good or say they fly well. This confidence will give them that boost that they need to interact more and potentially engage more within the community.
Thank you for reading and I hope you have taken something from my information guide this evening.