Let’s Talk About Mental Health

A critical component of overall health and well-being is mental health but as a result of long-held stigmas, many people don’t talk about mental illness or get the help they need.  Bell Canada’s Let’s Talk Day is January 30 and the event not only raises money to fund call lines and online counseling, the initiative helps educate the public about the language and actions that can make a difference in the lives of people experiencing mental health challenges. 

While all ages of people are impacted by mental illness, among older adults depression can lead to poorer physical and mental health as well as social isolation.   According to the World Health Organization, about 15 percent of adults over the age of 60 suffer from a mental health disorder.   Older adults who may also have other chronic health problems or experience loneliness, grief from the the loss of loved ones or a drop in socioeconomic status with retirement, have many risk factors for mental health problems.  

Elderly adults can also be vulnerable to elder abuse which can lead not only to physical, emotional or financial harm, but may also create long-term mental health problems including depression and anxiety.   Caregivers and loved ones can help elderly adults by learning the sign and symptoms of abuse and seeking help from trained health professionals and social workers. 

By reducing the stigma surrounding mental illness and promoting awareness and understanding through education, more people will receive the care and support they need to feel better and experience an improved sense of well-being.  On January 30, Bell will donate 5¢ for every text, call, tweet or social media video view to mental health initiatives.  The event gives Canadians an opportunity to open a dialogue, learn how to talk about mental illness and help people living with mental illness get the counseling they need.   Depression is not a normal part of getting older and without treatment, mental illness can complicate and worsen other chronic health problems.  Receiving mental health treatment can significantly improve the quality of life for older adults. 

Warning Signs of Depression

  • Noticeable changes in mood, energy level, or appetite
  • Feeling flat or having trouble feeling positive emotions
  • Difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Difficulty concentrating, feeling restless, or on edge
  • Increased worry or feeling stressed
  • Anger, irritability or aggressiveness
  • Ongoing headaches, digestive issues, or pain
  • A need for alcohol or drugs
  • Sadness or hopelessness
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Feeling flat or having trouble feeling positive emotions
  • Engaging in high-risk activities
  • Obsessive thinking or compulsive behavior
  • Thoughts or behaviors that interfere with work, family, or social life
  • Unusual thinking or behaviors that concern other people

Source:  National Institute of Mental Health