Oct. 10: World Mental Health Day 2013


Theme: Mental health and older adults

Mental health is consideration across the lifespan, from adolescence through late adulthood. This year, the World Health Organization has chosen to focus on “Mental health and older adults.” The need for mental health support in the United States is apparent. The American Psychological Association explains that,

“Approximately 20% of adults ages 55 and over suffer from a mental disorder, the most common being anxiety disorders (e.g., generalize anxiety and panic disorders), severe cognitive impairment (e.g., Alzheimer’s disease), and mood disorders (e.g., depression and bipolar disorder).”

Since most of us aspire to live happily and healthfully into late adulthood like the majority of the “Baby-Boomer” generation, it is important to consider strengthening the support networks available to older adults struggling with mental health challenges in the United States. Maintaining mental health while aging allows adults to maintain their physical health and their independence.

In the United States, we live in a nation where mental health challenges are increasingly de-stigmatized societally, even if resources for treatment and care are less accessible than ideal. Notably, the late Rosalyn Carter, wife of former President Jimmy Carter, dedicated herself to de-stigmatization of mental health. You can listen to the poignant story of her work to combat mental health stigma through the Carter Center here:

Unsurprisingly, mental health challenges look different (and even more urgent) from the global perspective. In his compelling 2012 TedTalk, Vikram Patel provides perspective on the pervasiveness of mental health illness in developing countries, and illuminates the shocking 90% global “treatment gap” of those who need, but never receive, mental health care.

Research and innovation on mental health maintenance and care is ongoing at the University of Michigan, and the library offers access to resources for researchers, faculty and students working to be part of the solution. Notably, the Disability research guide contains a collection of academic resources which address a variety of issues concerning physical, emotional, and mental disabilities.

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