Cross Cultural Expressions Podcast's Podcast

Access For All: Mental Health and Stigma Within The Physically Disabled Communities

June 14, 2023 Cross Cultural Expressions Podcast
Access For All: Mental Health and Stigma Within The Physically Disabled Communities
Cross Cultural Expressions Podcast's Podcast
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Cross Cultural Expressions Podcast's Podcast
Access For All: Mental Health and Stigma Within The Physically Disabled Communities
Jun 14, 2023
Cross Cultural Expressions Podcast

In this episode, we’re joined by Kelsey Ledezma, Alex Elliot, and Minou Michlin as we discuss mental health and stigma within the physically disabled communities. 

The Access For All Podcast Series aims to explore a variety of topics related to the intersection of Deaf, Hard of Hearing, Blind, Partially sighted, visually impaired and physically disabled individuals lives as it relates to mental health, well-being and the accessing of mental health services.

The Access For All podcast series is meant to create awareness, reduce stigma, educate and create opportunity for discussion around issues related to the intersection of physical disability and mental health. Through sharing personal stories, challenges, and strengths we will discover how a physical disability can affect our mental health and how the state of our mental health can affect our physical body. We will also explore societal stigma around disability that can affect our mental health and ways that we can overcome them or advocate to change legislation and collective perceptions.

This project has been developed by the private, non-profit organization, Cross Cultural Expressions, in partnership with the Access For All, Underserved Cultural Communities sub-committee of the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health. For more information on this project or to learn about Cross Cultural Expressions, please visit our website at To receive referrals or resources to mental health services, please call the LACDMH Access Help-line at 1-800-854-7771.

Show Notes Transcript

In this episode, we’re joined by Kelsey Ledezma, Alex Elliot, and Minou Michlin as we discuss mental health and stigma within the physically disabled communities. 

The Access For All Podcast Series aims to explore a variety of topics related to the intersection of Deaf, Hard of Hearing, Blind, Partially sighted, visually impaired and physically disabled individuals lives as it relates to mental health, well-being and the accessing of mental health services.

The Access For All podcast series is meant to create awareness, reduce stigma, educate and create opportunity for discussion around issues related to the intersection of physical disability and mental health. Through sharing personal stories, challenges, and strengths we will discover how a physical disability can affect our mental health and how the state of our mental health can affect our physical body. We will also explore societal stigma around disability that can affect our mental health and ways that we can overcome them or advocate to change legislation and collective perceptions.

This project has been developed by the private, non-profit organization, Cross Cultural Expressions, in partnership with the Access For All, Underserved Cultural Communities sub-committee of the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health. For more information on this project or to learn about Cross Cultural Expressions, please visit our website at To receive referrals or resources to mental health services, please call the LACDMH Access Help-line at 1-800-854-7771.

[00:00:00] Madison

Hi everyone. My name is Madison Buteyn and I would like to welcome you to the third of a series of six podcasts created by Cross Cultural Expressions in partnership with the Access for All Underserved Cultural Communities Subcommittee of the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health. During this series, we will be exploring a variety of topics related to the intersection of the deaf hard of hearing, blind, partially sighted, visually impaired and physically disabled individuals lives as it relates to mental health, wellbeing and the accessing of mental health services. This is an opportunity for members of these communities to sit together and discuss concerns, share resources, and give insight as to the work that can be done to keep individuals and communities uplifted and living their best lives. Before I introduce our wonderful guest, I wanted to make sure to share with everyone the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health's Access Helpline number for Mental Health Services and Support. Please call the 24 over seven helpline at 1-800-854-7771. In this episode, we are joined by Kelsey Ledezma, Alex Elliot, Minou Michlin, as well as Mastaneh Moghadam, licensed clinical social worker and executive director of Cross Cultural Expressions. Thank you, everyone, for being here. We really appreciate it. More than you know. We would like to just have you guys introduce yourselves. I know Kelsey was on a podcast earlier today, but just a little brief intro for listeners who are new and maybe haven't listened to that podcast. And if you want to take it away, Kelsey, And then we'll have Alex go after.

[00:01:34] Kelsey

Sure. My name is Kelsey. I am 33. I'm a disabled woman in full time wheelchair user.

[00:01:43] Madison

Perfect. Thank you.

[00:01:44] Alex

Hi, I'm Alex. I'm 37. I'm a congenital amputee, born without my right forearm, and I work for the LA County Department of Mental Health. Thanks for having me.

[00:01:55] Madison

Parvesh. Is that how you pronounce your name?

[00:01:57] Minou

Yeah, that's my legal name. I'm called Minou. I'm 81 years old. I had polio at age three, and I have always been walking with limp, and now I use two canes to walk. I'm a social worker.

[00:02:13] Madison

Perfect. Thank you. So I think that we just wanted to hear all of your experiences and your stories. I'm acting as a moderator for these podcasts, so the floor is very open to all of you. And I wanted to start with sort of your experiences with mental health, with regard to your disabilities and your experiences in your life.

[00:02:39] Minou

I, I have used mental health counseling for at least 7 or 8 years of my adult life, and I have found it extremely helpful. The the most effective counseling I received was when I was a young adult and my disability was interfering with my social relationship and romantic relationships, and that psychotherapy was extremely helpful to free myself from stigma that I had internalized as a child.

[00:03:19] Madison

We're going to go into the stigmas in a little bit. I definitely have questions. I just would love to hear from everyone else and then we’ll get into it.

[00:03:27] Kelsey

So for me, um, something that's actually, I think kind of interesting in all the time that I've been disabled, I've actually not had any type of therapy. Um, I've never spoken to anybody really about it in that kind of way and. As I've gotten older, I've recognized that having not done that has definitely created. Some mental health situations within myself that I am needing to kind of take care of now and. They have way more. I think for me they have more to do. With a lot of a lot of what I went through like medically had a lot to do with life and death. And so for me, a lot of that is where my mental health. Um, I deal mostly with panic and anxiety, and. And that's where most of mine kind of lives is in that realm.

[00:04:26] Madison

Thank you for sharing. Alex.

[00:04:28] Alex

I've. I've gotten support from things at school like disabled services program at Long Beach State and UC Berkeley. Um, it was helpful to get support. Um, I think they call social determinants of health, but getting resources help with college assistive technologies. I found that to help my mental well-being because it helped me further my career goals, which are important to my mental health.

[00:04:58] Madison

Amazing. Thank you. I wanted to ask Kelsey if it's okay for you to share how or why didn't you seek out maybe therapy or chatting with someone when you were dealing with your anxiety?

[00:05:12] Kelsey

I think I never did it because. I mean, I guess I actually don't know. I think that I didn't think that I had an issue in that realm until like I shared with you on the earlier podcast until my friend died. Um, I, I think I was very much put in a place because, like my cancer diagnosis and chemo rolled right into my disability. So my head was always just like, go, go, go get it done, keep going, keep moving, be as normal, quote unquote, as possible and just keep going. Um, I think that there is also a big part of me that thought like, I know what the issue is. So, you know, like, what are we really going to talk about? Interestingly, though, when it came to going to college, I studied psychology. So I think there was there's also been a part of me and I mean, I've only finished up to my bachelor's level, but there's a part of me that's like. I already know better. I know all of the things that they would say. Um, and so it's kind of like it was for a while thinking that it wouldn't help that much once my panic attacks and stuff like that started happening. Uh, I've actually been looking into getting into therapy more now and talking to somebody to unpack everything the way that it should be. But I think that there was just like this feeling of if I just keep going, I don't need to address it.

[00:06:45] Madison

Yeah. I wanted to ask you guys, do you think that there is a prevalence of mental health issues amongst the physically disabled or within your community that you've noticed?

[00:06:56] Alex

Yeah, just higher levels of depression, higher levels of anxiety. And then it's not just related to the disability itself, but this population tends to higher food insecurity, higher housing instability, um, around other things around social determinants of health. So all those things kind of compound each other. Um, and then there's kind of having access to the term is like culturally and linguistically accessible care, which is, you know, there's a lot of therapists out there, but not so many therapists with the same disability you have. So when you meet with someone, they can speak to some things but not relate maybe to your lived experience as much.

[00:07:39] Madison

Mhm. And you believe that that's a big challenge within that space.

[00:07:45] Alex

Um, I mean, I'm a psychiatric social worker. I'm a clinical social worker. So I think kind of therapeutic alliance is important. And an important piece is if you see someone who's experienced similar things as you, that can be helpful. So I think the field would benefit from having more people with physical disabilities as clinicians, social workers, psychologists, psychiatrists, peer support services. I think that will help people have more someone they can relate to.

[00:08:18] Madison

And I did want to ask if mental health issues amongst the physically disabled individuals or that community are brought on by the disability itself, or do you think it potentially stems from society's view of said disability?

[00:08:35] Kelsey

I think it can be both. Um, I think that a big part that we forget about is that before for a lot of people, before you're injured, you're part of regular society. Regular society. So the ableism that comes with having lived an able bodied life is a hard thing to shake. It's hard to, you know, something that I've seen a lot recently is this almost almost like a campaign in the disability community saying like, you're not a burden. You are not a burden. You shouldn't feel like a burden because a lot of people feel like a burden. Um, and I think that a lot of that it comes from both both realms. I mean, you are now living a different life. You have to, you know, figure out how to do things again. And then you're going out into a world where visibility is not at the forefront. It's not something that people are worried about. You know, it's hard to be part of a society where you are constantly the last thought of. And even when you are thought of, you're put behind the scenes. You know, the ramps aren't the things that are in front of the buildings. The stairs are how many times I've had to go around back through the dumpster area to get into a building. Makes you feel a certain type of way. So I think that whatever you have in your head gets compounded by those things as well.

[00:10:02] Madison

In addition to what you just said, has that ever made you feel sort of shame with what you're going through?

[00:10:10] Kelsey

So for me, I have kind of made a promise to myself that I will not ever take on the feeling of being a burden or feeling shame. I feel rage.

[00:10:25] Madison

Yeah. Well, thank you for sharing. Oh, go ahead, Mastaneh.

[00:10:28] Mastaneh

I was going to ask, uh, I know that for anyone who joined in the previous podcast, they got to hear a little bit about, uh, essentially Kelsey's story. But for our new speakers, I would love it if you guys are willing to share a little bit about your stories in the, uh, in the place of like, you know, I know Kelsey mentioned that, you know, her cancer started when she was ten. And Minou, you just mentioned that you were three when you got the polio. So, you know, when you're so young, I'm wondering what you make of all of this and then in the years to follow, like when does it shift for you to start to notice that, like, you know, you're different? Is it pretty immediate? When does the you know, and then maybe from there we can actually go a little bit into the stigmatization, whether it was about the disability or about getting mental health, mental health being stigmatized. I would love to hear kind of everybody's stories starting from that, if it's okay.

[00:11:42] Minou

I'm 81 years old, so you don't want me to tell all my stories because it would take quite a few broadcasts. But what what I when, uh, when I look at my own life, I think that the role that the family plays is very important with any form of disability. And I was very lucky that I have a mother who who while accepted my disability, always gave me hope that I can get better. And so every from the time I was three years old, I was receiving all sorts of treatments in a country. I was living in Iran, in a country that was not that progressive as the Western world in medical care. But she never she never treated me as if I was disabled. She always treated me is that you can do something and get better. And that was very helpful until I went to school, when I went to to kindergarten and she took me to a good kindergarten, that's when I started to realize that I was different. Not while I was at home, but it was when I went to school that I realized I was different. Then it became the environment. The other thing that helped me out is that I had perseverance. So if I couldn't do it as fast as others, it didn't stop me from doing it. If I fell five times and they never fell, I got up with the bloody knee and I kept on going. So for me, that was the two variables that helped me to cope with all the discrimination and all the looking down and seeing me different. Uh, my, my older brothers had experiences of being embarrassed and, uh, criticized, uh, watching the boys, making fun of my walking and imitating me. So it, it was a lot from outside and less from the family and from myself.

[00:13:49] Alex

I was born with the disability, so maybe I have a different perspective. But yeah, I think it's, you know, I'm lucky I have siblings, so I always kind of, you know. Had a tight circle of people who treat me non-judgementally. I always had a close circle of friends, but I think you notice when you go to school, I think is the first kind of breakthrough that you realize you're different. I mean, when you have a physical disability, people point and stare and always ask you about it. Still, I'm still in my 30s, so that happens all the time. Things that were helpful is I was always into sports, so sports are kind of one of the things that we're kind of, I guess, like a meritocracy, like it was one of those few venues where they just if you were a good athlete, they treated you like everyone else. So I really like that. It gave me kind of space where you weren't a person with a disability or that wasn't like the main part of your identity. It's just, you know, I was a pitcher and outfielder or a basketball player and it gave me kind of a space and I had a lot of teammates. That was kind of an important part of my my social scene for many years. And yeah, and adults are just I work a lot. That's something that keeps me going and passionate. There's there's a lot of exciting things to work on and with people with disabilities. I'm really into assistive technology, Um, and just building assistive technology solutions for people with disabilities is going to make the world better. We're already seeing it, so it's exciting to be a part of some of those projects for me.

[00:15:29] Kelsey

Like you mentioned, I was diagnosed with leukemia at ten and I went through chemotherapy for two and a half years. Um, and during that time. I think that's when I started to feel different because I looked different. I had lost my hair, my body was changing. You know, I was going through chemo and puberty at the same time. A lot of stuff was going on. So I definitely looked different and I couldn't do all the same things as like my peers. But I will say that my school handled it in a very, I think in a good way. They. Talk to me and my parents about it and ask us, you know, like how how they wanted us to go about it. And what ended up happening is my doctors had a video that was about the the kind of cancer I had. And so they had my they basically asked my parents like, would it be a good idea to show the class this video so that they just understand why all of this is happening, what's taking place with Kelsey and what's going on? Um, my parents and I decided like, yeah, we think that that would be a good idea. And so they did it. And it was my class who watched it first and it went over really well. They had a lot of questions, but they had all of the, like every answer that they could have for them. And they ended up showing it to the rest of my great like my grade group kind of, Um, and so my, my classmates were actually very understanding. They were very protective. They were very, um, about being there for me, kind of. I mean, I can remember there was one time where one boy made fun of me because I didn't have any hair and the entire school turned on him and was like, Oh no, you do not get to talk to her that way and all of this stuff. And so that was a good experience. But then when my paralysis happened from the chemo. Um.

[00:17:35] Minou


[00:17:37] Kelsey

Yeah. Um, I. I didn't still go to school because I had to relearn how to do all of this stuff and I couldn't do it on my own yet. And it happened actually in the summer between sixth and seventh grade. So my mom and dad and myself had decided that it would be better for me to do home study while while we were figuring out just what was happening and what was going on. Um, and so I did that and I actually spent a lot of time because I didn't go to school. I spent a lot of time just really hanging out with my mom and my dad and my sister. Um, but eventually we had moved and it's this is probably when I think I got way more comfortable with my disability. My sister started working at a skate shop like a skateboarding shop. And. They were all super nice and they knew that we were new to the area and told her like, you know, you should bring your sister around, like she should come hang out. And the thing about that group of people was that they never treated me like I wasn't disabled. They never treated me like they didn't see the wheelchair. They treated me like. They cared. They cared that they saw that I was different and they wanted to make sure that I had the same experience as them. I mean, I can't tell you how many times people picked me up and carried me here and carried me there and said, No, we're not leaving you. That would be crappy. Like, we're not going to leave you. So I think that that is kind of where I got more confidence in being disabled that I realized that there were people out there who it wasn't that they didn't care, it's that they did care and they cared enough to say, Hey, you need to have these experiences with us. So I think that's where my shift happened.

[00:19:27] Mastaneh

I know that, again, when you're looking at it from the Western perspective, there's definitely stigma. Again, not around, not only around the disability, but also it's tends to, at least with a lot of the clients and the communities that I work with that the disability in and of itself makes the people around feel, I suppose, uncomfortable so that they kind of start to discourage the person from getting like mental emotional help that maybe that they need because everybody around is kind of invested to you're just fine mentality to make themselves feel better, if that makes sense. And so that's coming from, you know, clients that I work with. So I, I would love if you guys can speak a little bit to that. Has that been your experience that it's almost like you not only have to make this okay for yourself on a not just physical but mental and emotional level, but that somehow you're almost. Looked upon to making it okay for others, sometimes at the expense of your own well-being and wanting to reach out for help. And so just a little bit, if you can talk to that would be great.

[00:20:53] Minou

The issue of of culture and family's historical background is is very important. Um, I know as a retired social worker, I do volunteer work with families and quite a few of the families who are hiding adult with disability member of the family because they’re uncomfortable too, for the younger people or the extended community to know that their their daughter is disabled. And there there there are a lot of range of stigmas that is that puts pressure on isolates and doesn't allow the individual with disability to move on and to have a fulfilled life and to do all. There are some families who are providing that for their disabled members and are treating them with respect and openness. But a lot of families are hiding their disabled children, not just physical, also mental that I know families that have child who is physically and developmentally delayed and and they never talk as if they have another child that is placed in a group home. So there is a lot of stigma attached to disability. Perhaps less on physical disability than than other disabilities. It do make sense?

[00:22:32] Mastaneh

Absolutely. Yeah. And I'm just curious, working with these families and as a you know, you're not only coming from the position of, you know, being part of that disabled community yourself, but also working with the family and the parents in terms of being a social worker. Like how do you approach that? What is it that you try to do for them or with them to get them to really move forward and understand the possible harm that they're doing, not only to their children but to themselves as a result of.

[00:23:11] Minou

It's it's very, very difficult because the volunteer work I do has a limited opportunity. But I would what I try to do with particular family is to get the mother to get counseling for herself in how she's managing the daughter and to get the daughter to be more socially active and to receive treatment. I think that that particular family to tell the the reality that almost every member of that family needed to get counseling in order to be able to both be happier with their own life and to let go of the disability of the adult daughter they had who had developed some neuromuscular disorders during the teenage years. The the whole family was being pulled down and they were pulling her down with themselves because they had a hard time with disability and their imagination of the stigma of disability. But they they are in an immigrant community. They are not they haven't grown up in the United States.

[00:24:23] Kelsey

You know, I think there is something to say about that, too. My mom and I have talked about this a lot. She agrees that I should, you know, speak to a counselor or therapist or something. But if I even think about asking her to do that or suggesting she does it because who was there with me in the hospital room every day? She was who got the test results on the phone? She did disability, chronic illness, you know, chronic pain, any of that. It it goes further than the individual. It goes into your family, it goes into your friends. So that's that's interesting that you say that because I agree. Yeah.

[00:25:02] Mastaneh

I mean, you even spoke about that, Kelsey, when you talked about, you know, having to be there for your friend who passed from cancer and how I think you said that the panic attacks almost started after that. So if you could talk a little bit about that, because I think it's so important for people to recognize that, you know, this is the way we're all connected and that it's not just about kind of pointing to one person and saying, well, if they were okay, you know, but to just recognize each person in the systems part in their own healing. So I'd love to hear from you about that.

[00:25:42] Kelsey

Yeah. Um, I mean, my, my panic attacks did start after that, and it wasn't an immediate thing. It was something that happened after like. Like stewing in it for.

[00:25:56] Kelsey


[00:25:57] Kelsey

Let's see. She passed away in March and it was the next it was the next January when it all started. And I think that within our relationships that we have with other people, there's so much of ourselves that we put into them, um, that I think that we don't even think about, you know, we don't think about if this person is gone. That is a huge part of even myself that is, that is gone and that I can't get back because she is part of my life. She's part of who I am. I mean, specifically with her. We grew up together. We were children. And then, you know, like we did a lot of that, a lot of growing together. So I think that we underestimate the effect that people just have on each other within relationships. Um. Even with my friend. So our moms know each other. And while they've never been great friends, like super close or anything, they have a connection now between the two of them that. It's hard to explain to any other two people. And. I don't know. I think that there's just a lot in there when something happens to somebody we love or when something's happening to us, something's happening to the people who love us too, and vice versa.

[00:27:18] Minou


[00:27:18] Alex

I think part of the reason it may be hard to talk about because it is so human, it is so inevitable that I think people don't want to open their mind down that rabbit hole that like, this might happen to me one day. There's kind of this avoidance, um, not wanting to be exposed to that it might happen to them. So I think that might be a part of why people are not as open to talk about it or fear it or don’t bring it up or hide it. It's that it is real. It's going to happen to most of us, just some of us it may have happened to from birth or earlier. In life.

[00:27:59] Madison

Thank you. I did have a question. When there are those who might be uncomfortable with regard to your disability, how if someone listening is dealing with that like a loved one is maybe uncomfortable or doesn't want to speak about it or ignores it, what advice would you give to that person listening to help them through that sort of like to navigate that situation?

[00:28:27] Alex

That's a tough one. It depends the context. I mean, if they have family members, siblings might be a good someone you trust and you can talk to might be the first person to talk to about it. A good friend, a family member would probably be a good place to start. If you're on a sports team, your teammates, someone you trust and is non-judgmental might be a good place to start. But that's kind of tough to answer because like, I don't know if you'd like how you'd handle it at work or in school There different approaches, because I think part of the challenge of that and why it's so anxiety provoking is there can be consequences to disclosing the extent of your disability or how it affects you. You know, people are really hesitant myself maybe to talk about it at work because maybe you think it might affect a potential promotion down the road or you may be seen as needy or something. So being in a safe context with someone you trust is probably where I'd start.

[00:29:28] Madison

I am mostly asking that question just because I know with these podcast episodes and with the YouTube videos that we're just wanting to offer as much support as possible to those listening and of course you guys as advocates as well. But that was a great answer. So thank you.

[00:29:45] Kelsey

I actually think. For me for a long time, I wasn't comfortable talking about all of the nooks and crannies and nuances of my disability. But then and I don't know, I like to say it happened when I turned 30 that the things that used to make me cry just made me mad. And the things I used to be embarrassed about turned into information people need to know. And I don't know if that came with age or just with time of being like sick, of not being understood and sick of people not thinking about these things. But I just got really super unapologetically honest about everything when it was brought up and. If it seemed like people were uncomfortable. I am somebody who uses humor in those in those circumstances. And you think that's uncomfortable for you? Imagine what happens when that happens to me. Like, you know, I want to disappear or whatever it is. Um, but I will say that since I started doing that, I have like, no issues talking about any of it. Because the fact of the matter is, typically when people find out the information, they go, Oh my God, I had no idea. I won't do that anymore or I'll do this now or whatever. You know, like it does seem that they typically learn from it rather than get even more uncomfortable.

[00:31:10] Madison

Got it. Thank you so much. Minou Do you have anything that you'd like to say?

[00:31:14] Minou

I think that maybe because I started from a very young age and because of the way my mother handled me was that I was from very young age. I was very comfortable to talk about it. And one of the earliest memories I have is that I was playing with my niece, who was seven years younger than I am, and we had both stretched our legs out and suddenly she noticed the abnormalities of my leg and she commented about how my two legs were different. And my one of my foot had funny looking toes. And I recall very clearly I wasn't hurt by her comment and I felt like I have to let her know that I'm not hurting and it's okay. So I don't know whether it was within me or within the way I was handled. And the same thing was in school. If anybody asked me, I was very comfortable when I was, um, uh, fifth grade, I went to Israel and had major surgery, came back with braces. And as I was walking in, one of the girls said, they are saying that you have artificial leg. I had these braces for drop foot. And I said, Oh, tell them to come to classroom. I'll show them my brace. And I showed them where my operations were so that I felt I think by nature I had that feeling that if I showed them and told them, then there is no secret and there is nothing to be ashamed or talked about.

[00:32:49] Minou

And I pulled up my pants, took off my breast, took off my socks, showed them my operations. Uh, and I was only 12. I think I gave 90% of the credit to my mother, but 10% of the predisposition of personality and what's what I just heard of using explanation instead of being ashamed. I think if we accept ourselves with our own with our own, I think the secret that helped me to go through life and I have been very fortunate is because I looked at what I could do rather than what I couldn't do. And that was the key to my being able to live with my disability, not to be uncomfortable with it, not to stop me from doing any anything I could do, I did. And what I couldn’t do, it was okay. I don't know where it came from, but that was how I dealt with life. And I think that helped me a lot with being able to reach my goals. But I also think having understanding adults around you as a child is the biggest key to be able to accept help and to accept your own strength and not get destroyed with your shortcomings, whatever it is, whether it's mobility or whatever it is, or illnesses.

[00:34:21] Mastaneh

I think it's really amazing. And I have to point this out that, you know, given you know, we're talking about some 70 some years ago in Iran. Right?

[00:34:35] Minou

70, 78 years ago, Iran.

[00:34:37] Mastaneh

78 years ago in Iran. It's really, like, incredible, the, um, the way that your mom dealt with that. I mean, as an Iranian woman, even today, let alone 78 years ago, to really be embracive and not hold judgment or shame around this for their child is really unique, I think, for the time and a culture, wouldn't you say?

[00:35:08] Minou

It was unique. And one of the things that I hope all the parents of child with disability of any form from developmental to physical to medical to autism is that my mother always treated me with respect with her friends. I was like a niece to all her friends because she always presented me as if she was so proud of me. I don't know for what, but she treated me as if I was a gift to her, not a burden. And. And then all her friends treated me as if I was some. I wasn't a little kid. I was one of them. And I was respected all by all her friends because of the way she treated me. Because the way my father treated me is that they they they saw my strength rather than seeing my disability.

[00:36:00] Madison

Amazing. That's very beautiful and powerful. Thank you for sharing. So I did want to switch gears just a little bit in relation to mental health services and I guess just accessibility. I know this is a really large topic, but for mental health services and accessibility to them, do you believe that there is sort of a lack of mental health services that are provided? What are your thoughts?

[00:36:32] Alex

I mean, if we're talking about post COVID, the need is greater than ever. So we need more. Um, as it relates to people with disability, I think, um, a lot of things have went virtual, so it's making sure that folks can access telehealth appointments and things like that. Um, I think we need more, more clinicians with disabilities that relate to folks, but we just need more services in general. There's just not enough, um, across the country, across the county, across the state to, to meet the need, especially after the pandemic. Um. Yeah, it's we can always have more services around mental health.

[00:37:19] Madison

Where do you think, in your opinion, is the first step that we could take in providing that?

[00:37:26] Alex

I think just more funding, more funding for mental health. I think also just making it a viable in elementary schools, that being mental health. Mental health providers is a great career. There hasn't been as much attention and resources to mental health for years and decades, and now there's a lot of attention on it. And we we still have to build that capacity. We still need more people in the field. We need more colleges that graduate, folks that can serve the community. We need more people that can provide evidence based care. Yeah. And we need access to the best quality care that's out there for everybody, not just folks that have great insurance. Yeah, there there's a lot of layers to that question. You know, to my peers in the field, like something I emphasized when I do trainings or whatever, is that we often conflate disability and with accessibility, it's people with disabilities can do a lot of things if they have the tools they need to do them. And sometimes therapists, you know, have challenges identifying that. And I think just from lived experience, you get a sense for me early on that you have to learn how to advocate for yourself in some places and you build that, you know, antifragility, those tools, you become very resourceful. You know how to reach out to different services and things because you have to, because the world is not always accessible. And that's something I think that I take pride in that I bring professionally that because I've had to navigate Medi-Cal and Department of Rehab and Schools and LAUSD, you learn some tricks of the trade that that I try and bring clinically or professionally.

[00:39:22] Minou

I just want to support what you're saying and to say that one of the areas that we are really weak is educating school system and having mental health and consultation for teachers and staff of schools for children, especially high schools. High schools are murderous to individuals with disabilities particularly, and part of it physical disabilities. And we are not educating either educators or even being a social work educator. I don't think we other than one course on disability, I think all the contents of the courses in practice should educate the social workers on disabilities so that when they go into the field they know what what they're dealing with and to be able to be supportive. But in particular families. I think that is very important to have good supportive mental health for  families with individuals with disabilities. To teach them all the things that you're trying to create for them to know is their right and they should ask for it.

[00:40:40] Kelsey

You know where we are in the world right now, it's become clear that it's not a minority's job to teach people about that group. Right. It's not our job. It should just be taught. It shouldn't be on me every time I go into an establishment that I have to educate these people on disability no matter where that it is, you know? And I think that that definitely adds to feeling stigmatized is that you feel every time you go somewhere, you have to educate and you have to let them know what is and isn't and all the different things instead of just being able to be a person.

[00:41:14] Madison

Yeah, I can definitely speak to the lack of education because, I mean, I've never I've learned the most that I've ever learned about people with physical disabilities while I've taken on this project. And it's been honestly extremely eye opening. And I do hope that with these podcasts and YouTube videos that we can just spread more awareness and understanding for people who are like me, who never learned about this growing up. And I did want to ask you, Masana, before we have our concluding thoughts, if you had any further questions for everyone today, and I know we want to talk about Mina's book.

[00:41:54] Mastaneh

We always like to leave the podcasts with, you know, resources that you guys utilize yourselves or you think would be beneficial not only for disabled individuals but also family members and parents. And to that, I would love to ask you to talk a little bit about this wonderful book that she's recently written and what compelled you to write the book, and how was writing that book beneficial and therapeutic for yourself, if at all?

[00:42:28] Minou

It took me four years to write the book. In addition to physical disability, I have dyslexia. I had to work extra hard to pass my dictation classes and adult. I found out what it was. It was dyslexia. But so but again, just as a as I did, every sport in spite of my polio, is that I said, okay, I want to write a book and I don't know how to spell and I don't know how to organize my sentences. So I hire a very good writer and I sit down with him, I write, he corrects, we talk, and that's what we did. So I hired a very good writer and I told we talked back and forth the story of my life and it took us four years to get the book done.

[00:43:20] Mastaneh

Amazing. And can you tell us the title of the book and where people can find it?

[00:43:24] Minou

Yes, the title of the book is I Kept Walking. And it is on Amazon. It's on Barnes and Nobles Dot. A calm and it's on another two other sites, but I know that it's on Amazon. It has been very well received. I'm very happy.

[00:43:46] Madison

Awesome. And then if you all wanted to share any resources that have been helpful for you, you can share them now.

[00:43:53] Alex

I think, you know, this podcast series is put on by our Access for all group. They meet monthly every second Wednesday. That's a great opportunity. Resources are shared specifically for this community every month. Also check out DML There's some great resources by topic. Call our 800 number if (800) 854-7771 and there's an option to if you just want to talk to someone we have an emotional support line. If it's an emergency situation, call nine, eight, eight. And also if you're a member of the deaf hard of hearing community, you can use your favorite video relay services. And then one thing I would have liked to talk a little bit more about is like something important for me is, you know, we have a supercomputer in our pocket all the time. And for me, assistive technology is so important and not enough people are using it to its maximum benefit. So if you're on an iPhone, contact iPhone accessibility help and ask them how to use it as good as possible. And I can share that link. Or if you're on an Android device, contact Google Accessibility. Ask them how you can make this device work for you. Or if you're using like a microsoft product, contact the Microsoft Help Desk and ask them how to make your Microsoft products and tools as accessible as possible.

[00:45:16] Kelsey

And then I said this in the last podcast, too. But honestly, the thing that has made the biggest difference in me for me is finding community. You need tips, tricks and how to's you got to go. You know, you go within your community and you learn so, so much and that's really what has made a huge difference for me. Anytime I needed services or resources, literally shooting a text to a little group text I have going on and it's just like. Ten, ten options right there. Right for you, because sharing information is really important.

[00:45:49] Minou

I just want to add something is that I'm 81 years old and only last month I found out that there are two groups, two support groups forpeople with polio. Which I never thought it exists. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to connect with them yet. But there is one in the valley and one in San Francisco via Zoom. That's a very large group of people with polio, and I wish that I had known that ten years ago, not last month, but still better to have it now than never.

[00:46:20] Madison

Definitely. Amazing. Well, thank you all so much for being here. Everything that you said was so significant and I'm happy that I was able to tag along. So thank you. I would like to thank our wonderful speakers for giving their time and wisdom and being here today. I want to remind everyone that if you're in need of mental health resources and support, you can call the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health's Access Helpline at 1-800-854-7771. I also want to invite you to listen to our other podcast episodes, as well as our YouTube series that addresses the topics of mental health and wellness as it relates to the deaf hard of hearing blind and physically disabled communities. For links to the podcast and YouTube videos, feel free to reach out to cross-cultural expressions by emailing us at Connect with CCE at You can also find links by going to our website at