On October 9th people from around the country will be participating in National Depression Screening Day. This important awareness day began in 1991 through the actions of Screening for Mental Health(SMH). Their goal was to create awareness events for those with mental health issues as well as people who were unfamiliar with the topic. However, most importantly, it included an anonymous screening option for those who wished to get tested.
Much like a yearly or monthly physical is used to find physical ailments that prevent the body from aging properly, depression screenings are used to find mental ailments that are deterring individuals from living a happy life. The ultimate goal of SMH’s initiative is for a mental health screening to be as common as a physical. Mental health is just as, if not more, important than physical health.
Within the elderly community, depression affects 7 million of the 39 million people over the age of 65, and the majority of those 7 million older adults will not seek help. It’s a cataclysmic cycle that shuffles seniors in a never-ending feeling of guilt and blame when that should not be the case. A senior should never feel guilty about being depressed or lonely. They need to feel open about what’s going on inside their head and feel comfortable enough to share it with a family member or their caregiver.
However, we don’t live in a perfect world where everyone feels comfortable enough to share what’s going on inside their minds. The stigma that surrounds mental health awareness still exists. People don’t feel comfortable enough admitting to their friends or family that they may need help. It’ll take some time adjusting these thoughts and feelings, but with fantastic observances such as Mental Health Awareness Week and days such as National Depression Screening Day, it’s becoming easier to tackle the issue.
Be aware of October 9th. If you suspect your senior friends and family members seem distant, less active, or has a decreased appetite, talk to them. The stigma is there, yet there should be no shame in seeking help when needed. Let’s erase this dogmatic practice one day at a time. Let’s spread awareness!
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