The tragedy of the mass shooting in Parkland, Florida has sparked a massive debate between gun control laws and mental health issues. As you probably have read or seen in the media, there are extensive arguments for both sides of the issues. No matter what your political or personal views are, we can all agree that mental health is a very important aspect of our lives. Yet we are not constantly reinforced to take good care of our mental health. Think back to your upbringing, schooling, or training from work – how many figures in your life taught you to take proper care of your mental health? Now think about the stigmas and stereotypes associated when you think of “mental health issues.” Do these stigmas inhibit you from seeking mental health support?
According to American Psychological Association, one in four adults of age 65 or older experience mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, schizophrenia or dementia. As you age, it may become more difficult for you to take care of your mental health, especially if you need to care for your physical health. But according to the World Health Organization, mental health correlates with physical health.
It’s important to remember that you are responsible for your own mental health. If you are feeling depressed, have anxiety, feel anger, or feel isolated or lonely, it is your responsibility to speak up when you visit your primary care practitioner. Many health systems are merging health care into primary care visits, and if your doctor is unable to help you, he can direct to you to the right place. There are many factors that can affect your mental health. You don’t have to have gone through a traumatic experience to have mental health issues. You don’t have to invalidate your feelings by thinking that it is “not a big deal”, or thinking that you can “tough it out.” It is far better to be proactive and seek help or support instead of hiding behind any feelings of shame or embarrassment.
If you are thinking about seeking support for your mental health but don’t have healthcare or don’t know where to start, there are many resources available locally and even online. If you visit the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, you can find local and online peer support groups. You can contact your county’s public health office to be referred to a professional, a screening and assessment service, or a local support group. If you know someone else who seems to be having mental health issues, you can reach out and advise them to seek support. Remember that taking care of your mental health is just as important as taking care of your body. With a little effort, you can have the support that you need to maintain your well-being.
Resources By County:
San Bernardino Public Health: http://wp.sbcounty.gov/dph/resources/
Riverside University Health System: http://www.rcdmh.org/Directors-Message
Orange County Social Services Agency: http://ssa.ocgov.com/health
Senior Health Outreach & Prevention Program: http://www.ochealthinfo.com/phs/about/phn/specialized/shopp
Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance: