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Raising Your Mental Health Awareness IQ

The month of May often brings warmer temperatures, blooming flowers, and new life as spring finally shines through. For many, the blue skies and sunny days carry a sense of euphoria after months of clouds and cold-weather. However, this is not the case for everyone. For many, mental health issues can stand in the way of feeling happy, or even “normal.”

Mental health is of particular concern for seniors, with social isolation and depression common among the elderly. In fact, one very good reason to consider a retirement community is to join a thriving social environment. At Bethesda Senior Living Communities, an active social life is just one way we work to take care of our residents’ mental health.

“Part of our routine assessment and service planning includes an evaluation of each resident’s mental health, mood and behaviors,” explained Lisa Silcox, RN, MSN, Regional Director of Health Services for Bethesda Senior Living Communities.

“This allows us to both support the resident’s mental health needs and gives us insight to any future behavior or mood changes so that a timely physician referral can be made. Our staff also receives training on how to identify depression in elderly individuals and the importance of encouraging appropriate, meaningful daily activities.”

The causes associated with mental health issues have been intensively studied for decades, and they are undeniably real. While we all have emotional highs and lows, a condition like severe depression isn’t just an exaggeration for having “the blues” but rather a serious medical condition that can affect the biological functioning of one’s entire body.

With this in mind, and as part of Mental Health Awareness Month, below are some important tips from the National Alliance on Mental Illness. These tips may help you or someone you know who might be suffering from a mental health issue:

  • Consider mental illness conditions in the same way you would consider physical illnesses. No one is to blame for it, no one is responsible for curing it, and we are all rooting for recovery.
  • Use first person language. An example would be to say, “She has depression,” not, “She is depressed.” A person is not their illness.
  • If a friend or family member is living with a mental illness, learn as much as you can about it. Show interest in the treatment plan. Listen and support, but don’t push too hard. Resume normal activities and routines as much as possible, striving for safety and cooperation. Don’t give up.

Visit the National Alliance on Mental Health website for more recommendations and resources.