Mental Health Issues in Autistic People by Keely Roberts
80% of autistic people experience mental health issues during their lives, yet the mental health of autistic people is often overlooked or ignored. When autistic people try to seek help for their mental health issues it is just blamed on being autistic and as a result, they do not receive the proper help that they need. It is possible for autistic people to also suffer from mental health issues as well as being autistic and this is what many people do not seem to understand.
All mental health professionals need to understand autism and know how to communicate with people who are on the spectrum. Most autistic people will struggle with explaining what they are experiencing and some may even be non-verbal or semi-verbal. Many of the mental health services around do not have enough support for autistic people with mental health issues as they simply do not have the right level of understanding. From my own experience as an autistic person with mental health issues, some professionals that were assigned to me did not understand anything that I was trying to say to them. I would try my best to explain the things I was struggling with but I may as well have been speaking a foreign language. I would also get told that the struggles I was having were just autistic traits rather than a mental health issue, which was not true. My mental health issues would then get worse because I was not getting the help that I needed.
Because I am autistic I will take what people tell me literally and sometimes I will think someone is being rude or hurtful when they do not mean to be. My psychiatrist does not know much about autism and therefore she does not know how to speak to me in a way that I will understand and not be offended. She made me cry several times as she was way too harsh when speaking to me. This made me more anxious and depressed than I already was. It is extremely important for professionals to understand autistic people because how on earth are we going to get the help that we need if we cannot understand them or they cannot understand us?
Autistic people can and do have mental health issues and we deserve to be taken seriously, our struggles are just as valid as everyone else's. There needs to be more help and support available for autistic people, especially in mental health services.
Written by Keely Roberts.
Thank you so much to Keely for this very important Guest Post! If you would like to learn more about autism and get to know Keely a little bit more, you can find links to her blog as well as her Twitter Page below!