The month of October has been declared Mental Health Awareness month with the objective of not only educating the public about mental health but also to reduce the stigma and discrimination that people with mental illness are often subjected to.
Experts consider mental health on a spectrum. On the one side of the spectrum are the estimated 400 million people worldwide suffering from extreme mental health or neurological disorders. These include Alzheimer’s Disease, Dementia, Bipolar Disorder, Acute Stress Disorder, Panic Disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Depressive Disorder, Schizophrenia and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Notably, 20% of this group of people are 55 years of age or older.
The other side of the mental health spectrum is flourishing when people have a strong sense of meaning, mastery and mattering to others. However, most people do not fall in the middle of the mental health spectrum. Herein lies the less talked mental health issue called languishing. This term is used to highlight that many people are not depressed but are still not thriving. It also highlights that mental health is applicable to a lot more people than those suffering with the extreme mental health issues. We can all work towards thriving whatever state we find our mental health in. I therefore want to encourage all of us and especially our elderly citizens, to focus on our mental health and the mental health of those around us. Experts suggest a variety of ways to improve your mental health, here are some of my favourites:
– Staying connected and maintaining strong, meaningful social connections with friends and family.
– Keep your brain active and play mind games, puzzles, crosswords etc. (sudoku is my favourite)
– Stay physically active. (Team sports allow you to also tick the connecting box)
– Retirement is the perfect time to dust of the “bucket list” and pursue lifelong goals, be it gardening, sewing, painting or even French cooking!
– Volunteering can be a rewarding experience and has been shown to be one of the greatest sources of happiness.
For our residents (and those considering joining us) we offer a range of activities and social interactions to keep our residents engaged with our Service Centre at Eureka Retirement Village and the Social Club at De Rust. For those that haven’t joined yet I strongly encourage to reach out. While we are currently restricted by Lockdown regulations we continue to provide as many activities as we can. For those that feel they need to talk to someone about their mental health, I also want to remind and encourage our residents to reach out to our two qualified and registered Social Workers.
I want to close of this month by saying to each one reading this, be kind and gentle to yourself and others, we are all doing the best we can!