Suicide, depression, and anxiety are not problems faced only by younger people. By 2030, an estimated 75 million Americans will be older than 65, and they face the mental health and substance use problems that so many others do.
To highlight the mental health problems faced by older adults, the Mississippi Department of Mental Health (DMH) is reminding the public that May 7 is recognized as National Older Adult Mental Health Awareness Day. During the ongoing pandemic, this year’s recognition is drawing awareness to the social isolation many seniors are experiencing as people stay home and limit their contact with others in order to slow the spread of disease.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the ongoing isolation, uncertainty, stress, and grief may become even more prominent. However, practical steps all Mississippians can take with older adults in their lives can help fight those feelings include, but are not limited to:
- Video chats and phone calls with elderly relatives
- Offering to bring a meal or run errands for an older neighbor or relative, using proper social distancing guidelines
- Provide food, toys or care for the pet of an elderly owner
To further support the elderly members of our community, familiarize yourself with the warning signs of depression:
- Feeling sad, hopeless, or guilty
- Difficulties concentrating or making decisions
- Loss of interest in activities
- Noticeable restlessness or irritability
A quick, easy way to determine if someone is experiencing depression is through an online mental health screening. Visit www.mhascreening.org for a depression screening. If you don’t have internet access, make sure to ask your primary care doctor about a screening at your next visit.
Help is Available
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has a Disaster Distress Hotline at 1-800-985-5990, and you may text TalkWithUs to 66746 to connect with a trained crisis counselor. The Crisis Text Line can connect someone with a crisis counselor by texting HOME to 741741. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is also available at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK).
The Mississippi Department of Mental Health Helpline will remain staffed at all times during the COVID-19 pandemic. Call 1-877-210-8513 for information about services or supports near you. Additional resources for Mississippians are located online at www.mentalhealthms.com and www.standupms.org.