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May is Mental Health Month and Older Americans Month

by Renee Marcus on 5/21/14 6:30 AM

May is Mental Health Month

The sponsor of Mental Health Month, Mental Health America, uses the event to reach millions of Americansthrough the media, local events and screenings. The theme for this year’s event is Mind Your Health. The organization hopes to accomplish three major goals this year: to build public awareness about the importance of mental health to overall health and well-being; foster understanding of the mind-body interaction; and provide hints and tips for protection of behavioral mental health and to promote overall health.

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Older Americans Month

In 1963, a meeting between President John F. Kennedy and the National Council of Senior Citizens resulted in the declaration that May 1963 would be Senior Citizen Month. The intent of the holiday was to encourage everyone across the United States to pay tribute to senior citizens. President Jimmy Carter changed the name to Older Americans Month.

This year’s theme, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is “Safe Today. Healthy Tomorrow.” Unintentional injuries in people aged 65 and older cause 48,500 deaths each year; falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries in senior citizens. Older people face greater risk for traumatic brain injury and other types of injuries from house fires, abuse, maltreatment and suicide.

Older Americans Mental Health Week

Older Americans Mental Health Week is an opportunity to spread awareness that mental illness is not a normal part of growing old. Raising public awareness about this issue reduces the stigma that often prevents older Americans from seeking help for a mental health issue.

According to the website for Congresswoman Grace Napolitano, there are several congressional events scheduled to mark May Mental Health Awareness month. Of most significance to older Americans is Military/Veteran Mental Health Awareness Day. On May 21, 2014, the Military Mental Health Caucus will host a briefing about the ongoing mental health crisis in the military. The organization will also discuss current efforts to address this crisis.

May is the perfect month to discuss geriatric mental health and behavioral mental health with the people you love. Encourage older individuals to seek help for mental health issues during the month of May. Psychotherapy, psychiatry and other forms of geriatric mental health care can greatly benefit older Americans. 

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