Stress is a normal part of our daily lives and certain amounts of stress are important to help us function. Small doses of stress help us meet deadlines, get to places on time, and prepare for important events. However, long-term stress can be harmful and can lead to mental and physical health problems, like depression, substance use issues, and stroke.
Awareness and support are important to prevent FASD. We’ve created a new two-page handout that talks about alcohol, pregnancy, and mental health during COVID-19. We are asking women and partners to reduce their risk of FASD by going alcohol free if they are pregnant or trying to get pregnant. If they are not trying to get pregnant, we are reminding women that it is important to use reliable contraception.
When we talk about mental health for individuals with FASD, we often talk about the mental health issues people with FASD commonly experience. But it is important to remember that mental health more than mental illness.
It is well documented that caregivers of children with disabilities experience increased levels of stress. But caregivers of children with FASD have been shown to experience higher levels of stress than most people. In a 2009 study, 92% of primary caregivers of individuals with FASD had clinically elevated stress levels. These number show that finding effective ways for caregivers to manage stress is especially important for this population.
One in five Canadians experience challenges with mental health. This proportion is high, but the stats are even higher for individuals with FASD. Researchers have shown that approximately 90% of people with FASD experience mental health issues. These numbers show that mental health is an extremely important consideration when discussing needs, supports, and resources for individuals with FASD.
Our mental health is very fragile right now because of all the uncertainty and stress surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. We can protect our mental health by using healthy coping strategies when we start to feel negative emotions.
The goal of mental health week is to shift how we think about mental health and to promote behaviours that encourage good mental health. Individuals with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) have unique needs and challenges that – when not met – can impact their mental health, and that of their friends and families. When we talk about mental health, we need to ensure that the voices of all Canadians are included in this conversation.
A member of the CanFASD Family Advisory Committee recently had the opportunity to participate in a research program that gave caregivers of individuals with FASD the skills to better manage the challenges and stresses of their daily lives using Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT).
These numbers show that mental health is an extremely important consideration when discussing the needs, supports, and resources of individuals with FASD. Screening for mental illness early in the lives of individuals with FASD can be an important strategy to early identification and treatment.