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May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Since it is not uncommon for people with hemophilia to experience higher rates of mental health issues, this is an important topic for the bleeding disorders community. If you or someone you care for has hemophilia, it can be a time to be mindful of mental health and consider taking empowering steps toward improved well-being.
Studies have shown that nearly four out of 10 adults living with hemophilia met the criteria for depression,¹ and that people with hemophilia and depression are less likely to adhere to a proper treatment regimen.² Withdrawing from friends, family, and the community can also happen over time, all of whom may help with maintaining a well-rounded and connected life.
Mental health not only aﬀects a person emotionally, but also inﬂuences physical well-being. “There
is no health without mental health,” said Debbie de la Riva, CEO of Mental Health Matters Too.
“When someone is struggling with a mental health disorder, he/she is less likely to engage in
healthy self-care behavior, such as getting enough exercise. This can have a lasting, negative
impact on their joints and increase the risk of bleeds.”
If you are struggling with your mental health, it is important to talk to someone about it and
possibly seek treatment. Recognizing and acknowledging your condition is critical to managing
mental health. Visit the National Alliance on Mental Illness to learn about the signs and symptoms
of common mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety, and to better recognize them in
yourself or a loved one. Through honest, open conversation, you can help yourself and others by
breaking down stigmas associated with mental health.
“I encourage people to recognize what mental health conditions look like and how to have that
conversation,” de la Riva says. “It’s time we break the stigma and educate ourselves.”
Another way to potentially improve mental well-being is by taking steps toward a greater sense of
empowerment. Empowerment allows patients and caregivers to have a sense of control over mindsets
and the conﬁdence to make choices and solve challenges that arise. Some steps you can take to help
increase your sense of empowerment include:
- Embracing uniqueness
What traits make you special? Think about characteristics like creativity, gratitude, and bravery.
These are strengths that can help you navigate diﬃcult situations.
- Engaging in self-advocacy
Self-advocacy means understanding your needs and speaking up for yourself in order to have those
- Creating empowering partnerships
Partners in empowerment support you in your decisions. They can be friends, family, a care team,
others with hemophilia, and other people in your life who believe in you and your abilities.
Empowerment is an active process that can be nurtured, practiced, and developed over time. One way
to practice empowerment is through visualization. The activity below can be used to help you
visualize the situations, behaviors, and people who give you conﬁdence in navigating life:
- On a piece of paper, write a word that describes a situation where you feel in control of your surroundings and empowered to speak about and make decisions regarding your hemophilia. Make that word so large it ﬁlls as much of the space as possible.
- Fill in the space around your big word with actions you take in that situation that make you
- Write down the names of people who support you, continuing to ﬁll in as much space as you
can. Post this somewhere you will see it often as a reminder of what makes you feel empowered.
Sanoﬁ is committed to empowering people with hemophilia. If you’d like to learn more, you can also connect with your local Sanoﬁ Community Relations and Education, or CoRe, Manager, who can provide
education and share resources for additional information.
²https://www.dovepress.com/interrelationship-between-depression-anxiety-pain-and-treatment-adhere-pe er-r eviewed-fulltext-article-PPA