May 6 – 11 is national Mental Health week. With all the stress and challenges of life today, it’s important to reflect on our mental health and well-being. That’s what Canadians are being encouraged to do in celebration of the launch of the Canadian Mental Health Association’s (CMHA) 62nd annual Mental Health Week (MHW).
Originally introduced in 1951 to raise awareness of mental illness in Canada, the idea behind Mental Health Week offers people practical ways to maintain and improve their mental health and support their recovery from mental illness. The CMHA estimates that at least 1 in 3 Canadians experience mental health problems each year. Although the focus of this year’s MHW is on youth, we believe that it’s important to address the concerns of the aging demographic as well, seeing that people from all walks of life are encouraged to learn, talk, reflect and engage with others on all issues relating to mental health and mental illness during this time of recognition.
The proportion of older adults is expected to increase dramatically in the coming years. According to the Canadian Journal of Geriatrics, by 2021, those aged 65+ years will account for almost 18 per cent of our country’s population. Currently, 20 per cent of those aged 65 years and older are living with a mental illness, and when you consider that older adults are living longer, mental health issues take on a greater significance. Whatever the trigger, whether an individual is having difficulty accepting their age-related physical or sensory changes, dealing with a bereavement or struggling to plan for a comfortable retirement,, mental illness is a commonly misunderstood disease that deserves our attention. Seniors’ mental health affects us all.
“We all have mental health. Mental health is more than the absence of mental illness. It’s a state of overall mental and physical health and well-being. But maintaining good mental health in today’s hectic and stress-filled society is a challenge,” Peter Coleridge, National CEO, CMHA said in a statement. We are all touched in some way by mental health issues, whether through a family member, friend or colleague. Take the time to sit down and talk to someone about it, and spread the word about the 62nd annual Mental Health Week.