James D. Huysman Psy.D., LCSW

Life in the Recovery Room

Focus on Older Adults: May is Mental Health Awareness Month

Advances in Neuroscience help to eliminate stigma and dispel fear

Posted May 16, 2016

aol images
Source: aol images

May is National Mental Health Month.  Since 1949, the month of May has been devoted to raising awareness around mental health in an effort to demystify and mitigate misconceptions about it.

The term mental health still carries stigma to those who do not understand it.  I heard t said recently that “stigma is what makes you feel badly about yourself”, so it follows that mental health is a vital part of our health and well-being. Our thoughts, feelings and reactions to what life throws at us are what constitutes our mental health. If you’ve ever taken a day off of work “just because”, you were contributing to yours!  At one point or another, we’ve all had something or someone that we claim as driving us crazy.

Certainly more serious mental health issues, such as bi-polar disorders and schizophrenia require medical and psychological interventions.  Recent advances in neuroscience have given us more information about how the brain works, or doesn’t.  There are still many things we do not know but progress is being made all the time.

May 16 - 22 is Older Adult Mental Health Week. Depression, elder abuse and substance abuse/addiction are compromising the health and well-being of our older adult population. These issues are exacerbated by loneliness, isolation, grief, loss, hopelessness and the like.

The National Council of Mental Health Associates (NCMHA) works to promote excellence in mental health, substance abuse and primary care services to older adults across America.

In honor of Older Adult Mental Health Week NCMHA is pleased to share an updated mental health and aging resource list (http://www.ncmha.org/resources.php) that highlights key resources for addressing the mental health needs of older adults. The list includes contacts for assistance in mental health, advocacy, elder abuse, caregiving, cultural diversity, and long term care, among others.

In my opinion, mental health is something that needs to be talked about and part of every conversation around health and wellness in America.