By Makalya Melvin
Senior Placement Services
Did you know that mental health awareness month was originally established in 1949? After World War Two, the mental health organization started mental health awareness month in order to promote education and provide support to those in need. Now in May of 2022, being informed and considerate of those handling the challenges of poor mental health is more important than ever.
The pandemic caused many changes. According to a survey by the American Psychological association, nearly half of the participants said they felt anxiety about returning to in-person interaction. These feelings are valid, but not permanent. As a community, we can take steps to ensure that we are taking care of ourselves and others.
One part of our community that needs particular focus is our seniors. Many older adults feel the effects of depression in their daily lives, but clinical depression is not a normal part of aging. There are many factors that can lead to depression, but there are two that I want to bring special attention to: social isolation and lack of physical activity.
With the onset of the pandemic, many seniors were forced to self-isolate in order to protect their own health. This led to a severe lack of socialization as well as a lack of physical activity as they were confined to the indoors. These two factors can lead to an increase in many of the symptoms of depression including lack of energy, feelings of hopelessness, and lack of interest in previously enjoyable activities.
It’s vital that we recognize the causes of depression as well as the symptoms so that we can provide support to ourselves and potentially vulnerable members of our community. Here are a few important steps you can take towards better mindfulness:
1.) Take time for yourself – try not to be overwhelmed returning to a more social world. Remember that it is important to have balance between your responsibilities and taking care of yourself.
2.) Know that it’s okay to go slowly – you don’t have to jump back into your social calendar. Start slow and build up.
3.) Be Kind – practice compassion for yourself and for others who might still be feeling the lingering effects of the pandemic.
4.) Call on others – ask your family and your friends how they are feeling and if they need more support. Some people might not feel comfortable asking for help and need to know that you are there for them.
5.) Remember to seek professional help when needed – talking to someone new can provide a fresh perspective on how you can implement healthier tools to better your everyday mental health
And remember, there should never be any shame or stigma about your mental health. The best way to combat the trials of depression is open and honest communication with ourselves and with those around us. It is time now to focus on our mental well-being as being equally important to our physical health.