Mental illness is not a normal part of aging. Conditions such as depression and anxiety disorders are real, treatable conditions that can profoundly affect a person’s life.
Older Americans’ Mental Health Week is May 21-27, 2017. It’s an ideal time for you to commit to improving the lives of your community’s seniors by helping increase awareness of mental health issues.
- Contact a local seniors’ grief support group and offer to join them to discuss depression. Be sure to discuss your agency’s companionship services. Take along snacks for the participants.
- Sign up to participate in local health fairs this month. In addition to providing information about your agency’s services, spread the word about the importance of screening for depression and other mental health issues among seniors.
- Connect with your area’s churches and invite a health care provider or peer support specialist from the Veterans Health Administration to speak about Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and how church communities can support military families.
- Donate board games or puzzle books branded with your agency’s logo and contact information to local assisted living facilities. Sponsor a game night and spend time talking with senior attendees about how to recognize the signs of depression.
- Learn about the full spectrum of programs and services that the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) provides for people across the country whose lives have been affected by serious mental illness. Create informative flyers about these issues and distribute them in your community.
- Support the caregivers in your community by distributing the American Medical Association’s Caregiver Self-Assessment Questionnaire to your local adult day care and memory care facilities. Coordinate with these facilities and with local senior centers to host classes about caregiver fatigue.
- According to the National Institute of Mental Health, people age 65 and older make up only 13 percent of the nation’s population, but they accounted for more than 18% of all suicides. Create a flyer about suicide risk among older adults and leave it in residential facilities, senior centers and local physician waiting rooms. Get started with this informative bulletin about suicide among older adults. Be sure to include the telephone number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1–800–273–TALK (8255).
- Host a community education class geared toward seniors about understanding depression. TAG Partners offers a great ready-made class that a non-clinician can present. Call us at 866-232-6477 for individual pricing for course components.