October 22, 2022
Shifting Mindsets Around Mental Health
By Nadia Velasquez, LCSW
Many factors contribute to mental wellness. Having secure, safe, affordable and stable housing is critically important to our mental health. So is having our basic needs met – such as eating, cooking, bathing, socialization, sleeping at least 7 hours a night, and access to routine health care. When our fundamental basic needs are not getting met, it can put any person as risk for experiencing psychological distress or mental illness.
Although there is a growing awareness and acceptance surrounding mental health, many of our clients at Family Eldercare lived most of their life in a culture that has viewed mental illness unfavorably. There is still a fear that if you tell a physician you struggle to get out of bed or worry so much that you cannot sleep, they will think, “I am crazy” or “they will send me to a mental institution.” These fears can keep you from seeking out help. This is why breaking the stigma surrounding mental health is so important.
Another common fear is that “a physician will make me take medication that I don’t want to take.” While many physicians may recommend medication, the decision on whether to take medication is yours. Hopefully your physician will also direct you to other resources such as a talk therapist, like Family Eldercare’s In-Home Counseling program (click here to learn more).
Many of our clients tell us that this is the first time they have been able to discuss and process their mental health with someone who doesn’t judge them or blame them for their own experience. A talk therapist will also work with individuals to build tools, find ways to manage challenging emotions or support in dealing with changes they may be going through.
It is estimated 1 in 5 older adults will experience a mental health or neurological disorder. If you or someone you know needs help, please reach out. There are resources linked at the bottom of this article.
Our Community’s Mental Health Depends On All of Us
By Cristina Coupal, LMSW
Mental health is one aspect of wellbeing. Other factors include basic needs, relationships, justice, and a supportive environment. For many, individual therapy resolves the distress that brings folks to our counseling program. For instance, a person might be struggling due to a death in the family, and therapy alone improves their ability to cook and clean in the home as they develop coping strategies and receive support.
Individual therapy is important, but so is advocating for change within our community to address those bigger factors that affect our wellbeing. For instance, a person who is threatened with eviction cannot just focus on emotions in therapy. There are broader issues many clients need addressed in order to experience mental health improvements.
I see people whose mental health is affected by so many factors out of their control: a shortage of in-home care attendants, a lack of affordable housing, and a transportation system that is not designed for people with mobility impairments, to name a few. These systemic issues don’t just hurt individuals, they also affect the wellbeing of our entire community.
In honor of the clients I serve, I encourage people to donate to local groups that provide affordable in-home care services, day programs for people with disabilities or cognitive impairment, and rental or utility assistance. If you have more time than money, driving folks to appointments is a huge need, as is making friendly phone calls to check in on people at home.
This Mental Health Awareness Day, I encourage all of us to consider what we can do today to reduce preventable hopelessness, fear, and loneliness in our community.
Integral Care crisis line: 512-472-4357