World Mental Health Day takes place on October 10 and aims to raise awareness of and mobilize efforts that support mental health. There is no doubt the past few months have brought forward many challenges as a result of the global pandemic. Older adults, who are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19, may have experienced greater feelings of loneliness and self-isolation as social interactions have been limited. Crises can also increase feelings of sadness, fear, stress and boredom. As World Mental Health Day approaches, it’s important to talk about mental health, the things that affect it, and how we can practice self-care while checking in on others.
Supporting mental health is a critical consideration to the healthy aging process
Mental illness is something that affects people of any age, including older adults. Common mental illnesses that affect the health of older adults are depression and anxiety. Many older adults are socially isolated or lonely and research indicates that social isolation and loneliness are health risks that can impact their overall health and well-being. Issues related to mental health can affect physical health, emotional and social well-being, and overall quality of life, making it a critical component of your overall health as you age.
Self-care strategies that can help
There are a few self-care strategies that older adults can implement to positively benefit their mental health and wellbeing. Exercising at home or walking outdoors (while keeping 2 meters apart from others) can provide an uplifting mood boost. Mindfulness practices including meditation may also have positive effects for older adults. Research evidence has shown that recreational reading can bring a range of benefits to individuals and to society. Whether you pick up a new book you’ve been wanting to try, or pick up an old favourite, reading can relieve symptoms related to depression.
Staying connected to reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation
A phone call or video chat with a friend or family member can be good for the soul! While social circles have been drastically reduced, using technology to connect with friends and family is a great alternative. Whether it be a phone call to say hello or using a video chat to gather virtually with friends, staying connected to others can help reduce feelings of isolation, loneliness and depression.
Although World Mental Health Day is only one day of the year, it’s important to prioritize mental wellbeing all year-round, especially now during these difficult times. Learn more about what affects mental health, self-care strategies and more through our resources below.