My life with a visual disability and my passion to educate the mental health world

Kirss Jarecki, LCSW-R, EMDRIA consultant

The number one disability is depression followed by low/no hearing and low/no vision. Persons with a disability are up to 4 times more likely to have a mental health diagnosis. Hi, I’m Kriss, and I was born with Optic Nerve Hypoplasia (ONH) and for almost 60 years I did everything to not be legally blind. Early on the message was clear: “You’re doing that like a normal child and that’s fantastic.” “Since you can see a little you should be able to figure out how to participate in everything.” My vision was never discussed as no one wanted to draw attention to it and sometimes I even forgot that I was visually impaired. Diagnoses like these were just not understood medically, mentally and socially. The good news is that we are stepping forward! For example, science is learning and educating us more and more regarding our understanding of how the body and brain work and options for treatment. With the boom of the internet, persons with a disability have more connections with the community and the world. This helps with having a place to communicate, socialize and learn about ourselves and others. 

It’s with information like this that I’m committed to bringing courses like A Healing Journey from Trauma to Resiliency in the Community of Persons With a Disability course! One of the many reasons I’m doing this course is to bring education, heighten awareness and propose treatment options in mental health for folks who are in the community of those with a disability. Via session videos (shared with client consent), you will meet and hear from clients in the community and learn interventions. Through discussion, didactic information, handouts and scripts and PowerPoint slides we will explore the similarities of trauma and disability, learn cultural terminology, get to know some folks in the community and learn a variety of mental health interventions that make therapy more “accessible” to folks with a disability. I hope you can join me live but if not, the good news is that it’s being recorded for your convenience.