Tooele Transcript Bulletin – News in Tooele, Utah

September 3, 2020
It’s time to talk about older adults’ mental health!

Everyone has experienced it: not wanting to get out of bed, having trouble completing everyday tasks for no reason, and lack of energy. 

Oftentimes we play it off in our heads like, “Oh, I must not have gotten enough sleep last night”, or “It’s just one of those days”, but what happens when “It’s just one of those days” becomes every day? 

What happens when you sleep a full eight hours but still lack motivation? 

You actually may be depressed or anxious, and it may be time to seek help. I know this happens to everyone but I specifically want to talk about older adults, those ages 50 and older, because like it or not, we need to talk about it.

Mental health is a public issue. That means we all need to take part in helping our elderly relatives and friends with this issue, and simply just acknowledge it. 

The World Health Organization defined health as “a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”. 

Because the word “mental” is included in the definition of the idea of health, we need to take it seriously. An individual may be physically healthy but if they are mentally unwell, they are in fact not healthy at all. Thus, mental health should be treated with the same urgency as physical health.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the traditions of treating a physically unwell patient can be applied just as usefully in treating patients with mental health. 

Public health agencies can and should incorporate mental health promotion into chronic disease prevention efforts, conduct research to improve the mental health of individuals, and collaborate with health officials to develop comprehensive mental health plans and enhance care. 

In order to do this, the stigma associated with mental health in the public’s eye and the person experiencing issues needs to be removed! I know, easier said than done. When we are experiencing mental health issues, we tend to blow it off and hide it in this deep, dark place within ourselves so we don’t have to talk about it, because we feel like we are the only ones experiencing issues.

The good news so far, is that mental health is becoming an increasingly important part of the public’s mission to achieve “perfect health.” 

According to the CDC, the mental health of older Americans has been identified as a priority by the Healthy People 2010 objective and the Surgeon General’s report on mental health, among others. Luckily, officials are beginning to take notice, so we should too.

Did you know, approximately 20% of individuals 55 years and older experience some type of mental health concern? 

According to the CDC, the most common conditions include anxiety, severe cognitive impairment, depression, and bipolar disorder. 

Mental health issues are oftentimes indicated as a factor in cases of suicide. Older men ages 85 and older, have a suicide rate of 45.23 per 100,000, compared to an overall rate of 11.01 per 100,000. 

Now, there’s no way you can say that mental health issues aren’t as serious as physical health issues, because having a bad state of mental health could lead to death. It’s that serious!

So, how can you help your elderly family or friends, or even yourself achieve better mental health? 

The first thing is to just talk about it! If you are experiencing mental health issues yourself or you suspect that a relative or friend may be, bring it up in conversation. 

Also, get help if necessary! 

We as a community need to value older adult’s mental health and take it seriously. There is help and there are resources out there.

If you or a loved one are contemplating suicide or are having mental health troubles, you can call 1-800-273-8255, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline to speak with someone who can help. They are available 24 hours a day.

 

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