Seniors and mental health

May is Mental Health Awareness Month

Posted 8/11/21

It’s the pandemic. It’s aging. It’s chemical changes in our brains. It’s illness.

It is not the sufferer’s fault.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, says a …

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Seniors and mental health

May is Mental Health Awareness Month

Posted

It’s the pandemic. It’s aging. It’s chemical changes in our brains. It’s illness.

It is not the sufferer’s fault.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, says a release from NY Connects: a state agency with a Sullivan County office that provides one-stop access to information and support for those in need of long-term care, no matter their age.

They’re also a tremendous resource for those who need help with other problems, or they can get you to the folks who can help.

Our mental health

Chances are, you know someone with mental health issues. It’s likely that 20 percent of those over age 55 are dealing with some form of mental illness. 

And men over the age of 85, according to the CDC, have the highest rate of suicide of any age group.

The most common forms are depression, severe cognitive impairment and mood disorders, such as bipolar disorder. 

Many people who did not have an issue with mental health prior to the COVID-19 pandemic now find themselves struggling with mental health concerns such as anxiety and depression. Many people are afraid for their own health or that of their loved ones and feel out of control due to the isolation of the pandemic.

The good news is there are things you can control and ways to cope with the additional stress of the current environment. And you can spot problems in a loved one, and get them help, quickly.

Warning signs someone needs help:

  • Noticeable changes in mood, energy level, or appetite
  • Feeling flat or having trouble feeling positive emotions
  • Difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Difficulty concentrating, feeling restless, or on edge
  • Increased worry or feeling stressed
  • Anger, irritability or aggressiveness
  • Ongoing headaches, digestive issues, or pain
  • A need for alcohol or drugs
  • Sadness or hopelessness
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Engaging in high-risk activities
  • Obsessive thinking or compulsive behavior
  • Thoughts or behaviors that interfere with work, family, or social life
  • Unusual thinking or behaviors that concern other people

Getting help is a challenge when you’re BIPOC

Research indicates that compared with people who are white, those who are Black, indigenous or other people of color (BIPOC) are:

  • Less likely to have access to mental health services
  • Less likely to seek out services
  • Less likely to receive needed care
  • More likely to receive poor quality of care
  • More likely to end services prematurely

Additionally, BIPOC are overrepresented in the criminal justice system, as the system overlays race with criminality. Statistics show that over 50 percent of those incarcerated have mental health concerns. BIPOC are also underrepresented as treating professionals; approximately 86 percent of psychologists are white, and less than 2 percent of American Psychological Association members are Black. 

Connect to help

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800/273-TALK (8255) for English, 888/628-9454 for Spanish

National Domestic Violence Hotline: 800/799-7233 or text LOVEIS to 22522

National Sexual Assault Hotline: 800/656-HOPE (4673)

Veteran’s Crisis Line: 800/273-TALK (8255)  or text 8388255

Disaster Distress Helpline: CALL or TEXT 800/985-5990 (press 2 for Spanish).

The Eldercare Locator: 800/677-1116

NY Connects, Sullivan County office: 845/807-0257

In Wayne County, PA: 570/253-8219

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