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Oct 10, 2013

World Mental Health Day and older adults

Around the world the focus today has been on mental health and particularly in older adults. The reality is that people are living longer, are not working and as such are facing a myriad of social and health issues. In Belize, one of the biggest challenges is the stigma associated with age. Duane Moody reports.


Duane Moody, Reporting

A balloon liftoff was held today at the mental health resource center in commemoration of World Mental Health Day. The theme this year for the day is “Mental Health and Older Adults.” Founded by the World Federation for Mental Health and supported by the World Health Organization, in its twenty-first year, the activities are focused on care for mental health patients in their old age.


Eleanor Bennett, Mental Health Program, Ministry of Health

Eleanor Bennett

“Statistic will tell you that more and more people are living longer and so that means that there is a large percentage of that population that does have some challenges that’s common to that age. For example, we know that older adults—and we are talking about people over sixty years—they are not working, they have retired so they have issues with loneliness and social isolation and this is where all the health issues start to kick it. And so they have mobility issues and they can’t move around the way they want to. And these issues sometimes do precipitate mental health issues and can cause them to become depress or anxious.”


One in every four persons according to statistics has a mental disorder and over the years, a lot more persons are seeking assistance. One of the biggest problems is stigma which is hindering persons from coming forth for necessary assistance. Executive Director for the National Council of Ageing, Lindy Jeffrey explains.


Lindy Jeffrey

Lindy Jeffrey, Executive Director, National Council of Ageing

“Older people are very much aware of the kind of derogatory language that is used to identify them. When they are old, they are grumpy, useless; they are a burden to society. We don’t want them to feel like that; they can be very productive people and if you say somebody is useless for long enough, they begin to recognize that they are useless.”


Nurse Eleanor Bennett, the Mental Health Program Coordinator with the Ministry of Health also spoke of the services offered and the limitations of the program.


Eleanor Bennett

“The Ministry of Health has been able to provide a wide range of services for people with these mental conditions such as Alzheimer’s, depression; and also a big part of our focus has been mental health promotion—making people aware of some of these issues and how to deal with them. We have provided training for caregivers of the elderly in institutions. So there is a wide range of service we try to provide; of course, it is limited. There is a lot that is still required for people living at home, which the Ministry of Health and other ministries have not been able to successfully deal with.”


Duane Moody for News Five.

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