Eric Litwiller, Mental Health Association of South Central Kansas, Director of Development and Communications discusses with us mental health and the significant effect it has had on seniors during the pandemic. During this time it has been critical to reduce the stigma around mental health so that it doesn’t prevent individuals from getting help.
Empowering Seniors – Mental Health During COVID
Mental health problems can be common among seniors. During 2020 and now into 2021 the pandemic has dramatically affected mental health of people of all ages; not just in the Wichita community but around the world. During this pandemic thing have constantly been shifting leaving seniors to be concerned. The stress of physical health, self-isolation, having family visiting them, scams, whether to quarantine, whether to wear a mask or not wear a mask, etc. All are creating an increase in mental health concerns.
Mental health is not going away anytime soon. Leslea Michieka, MHA, Director Senior Companion Program really focuses on recruiting volunteers that are 55 and older. Volunteers of the program visit seniors the are isolated or alone that might need help with medication reminders or just someone to come by and visit and do activities that can help with brain stimulation. The main goal of the program is to be able to keep the senior living independently in their home as long as possible. The connections created with the seniors and volunteers is beneficial for them both and keeps them connected with their peers and helps give sense of purpose. This program helps brighten someone day and lets the seniors know that someone is here for them.
If seniors have concerns about their own mental health or someone else’s the first steps in reaching out is recognition. Asking for help is so important regardless of the stigma that comes with mental health. Being aware of the resources and who to ask for help. MHA, Comcare (a government provider), United Way are just some places to go for resources and help, but most importantly reach out to someone.