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Caregiving Chronicles

News and analysis on caregiving topics in MetroWest and beyond.

Caregiving Chronicles

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Caregiving Chronicles will present news and analysis on caregiving topics in MetroWest and around the world, in-depth Q&As with experts in fields related to caregiving and updates and announcements about caregiving resources available in MetroWest from CaregivingMetroWest.org Program Director Douglas Flynn.


July is Minority Mental Health Awareness Month
By DebraMcDonagh / July 8, 2019

July was designated as Minority Mental Health Awareness Month to shed light on the hardships that minority groups face when seeking support for mental illness within the United States.

As per the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Minority Health (OMH): “Despite advances in health equity, disparities in mental health care persist. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) reports that racial and ethnic minority groups in the U.S. are less likely to have access to mental health services, less likely to use community mental health services, more likely to use emergency departments, and more likely to receive lower quality care. Poor mental health care access and quality contribute to poor mental health outcomes, including suicide, among racial and ethnic minority populations.”

The HHS Office of Minority Health encourages all of their partners to educate their community about the importance of improving access to mental health care and treatment and to help break down other barriers such as negative perceptions about mental illness. 

Depression does not discriminate. Neither should we.
Several campaigns running this month in support of Minority Mental Health awareness, two of the most visible ones are by Mental Health America: #DepthOfMyIdentityCampaign and by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI): “#WhyCare.” 

Mental Health America recognizes that the term ‘minority’ is traditionally associated with an individual’s racial, ethnic, or cultural background, they have started the #DepthOfMyIdentity Campaign to expand our collective views of a minority to include all marginalized and under-served communities. This can consist of the LGBTQ+ community, elders, or anyone else who is overlooked or whose mental illness is attributed to other aspects. 

Mental Health America feels that this line of thinking broadens our efforts to “address mental health issues with a unique lens while integrating the varied needs of diverse communities.” 

On their website, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) explains that “Mental health conditions do not discriminate based on race, color, gender or identity and that anyone can experience the challenges of mental illness regardless of their background.”  They expound on this by clarifying that a person’s background and identity, however, can actually decrease their ability to treat their mental health due to less access to care, cultural stigma, and lower quality care.  To start changing this, NAMI started the “#WhyCare” campaign in support of National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month 

Expanding our understanding of late-life depression.
Late-life Depression in elderly is not uncommon and according to WebMD.com, “affects about 6 million Americans ages 65 and older. But only 10% receive treatment for depression.”  There are several reasons for this and the most prevalent include:

  • Symptoms of depression in older people presents differently than clinical depression in a younger adult. For seniors, sadness often takes a back seat to other symptoms such as appearing tired without exertion, persistent trouble sleeping, being ill-tempered and prickly without provocation.
  • Late-life Depression is often mistaken for or attributed to other illnesses that are commonly associated with aging. For instance, depression can cause a lack of concentration, making an individual appear confused and is often perceived as cognitive decline. Additionally, illnesses like diabetes, heart disease, stroke or cancer, or the medicines to treat them, can bring on depressive symptoms.
  • Social factors that affect older adults such as death of a spouse, isolation, relocation to assisted living can trigger depression. However, caregivers often think of this as a situational mood change and delay seeking treatment. 

The National Institute of Mental Health considers depression in people age 65 and older to be a major public health problem.

For More Information about Depression:

American Psychological Association
1-800-374-2721 (toll-free)
1-202-336-6123 (TDD/TTY)
www.apa.org

 

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance 
1-800-826-3632 (toll-free)
www.dbsalliance.org

National Alliance on Mental Illness
1-800-950-6264 (toll-free)
www.nami.org

Mental Health America
1-800-969-6642 (toll-free)
www.mentalhealthamerica.net

National Institute of Mental Health
1-866-615-6464 (toll-free)
1-866-415-8051 (TTY/toll-free)
nimhinfo@nih.gov
www.nimh.nih.gov

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
1-800-273-8255 (toll-free/24 hours a day)
1-800-799-4889 (TTY/toll-free)
www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
1-877-726-4727 (toll-free)
1-800-487-4889 (TTY/toll-free)
samhsainfo@samhsa.hhs.gov
www.store.samhsa.gov

Sources: WebMD.com: Depression In the Elderly; NIH National Institute of Aging: Depression and Older Adults; National Alliance on Mental Illness; Mental Health America; AHRQ: 2017 National Healthcare Quality and Disparities Report




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