Thursday was World Mental Health Day and the focus of activities is on older adults. The Ministry of Health coordinated activities along with the Mental Health Association in Belize City and today at the Mental Health Resource Center the official ceremony was observed. We asked Secretary of the Mental Health Association Lady Kathy Esquivel to review the challenges facing older adults with mental health issues and whether because they are wrongly lumped in with “old age”, they go undiagnosed and unattended.
“Well, mental health day is celebrated every year in October 10th. This year, the theme “Mental Health and the Older Adult”, and this morning at the Resource Center, we are celebrating the opening ceremony and it’s being sponsored by the Ministry of Health”.
Reporter: “What are the mental health challenges faced by older adults?”
Mrs. Kathy Esquivel: “Well, obviously there is all kinds of issues, especially health issues, things like dementia, Alzheimer, but there’s also a certain amount of depression. So, there are physical and emotional issues that we need to recognize. But there is a lot that can be done. Sometimes, the medications that older people are taking, have a bad reaction, and they cause, so, I think anytime an older person is not feeling happy is…has issues. It’s a good time to talk to a professional. We have wonderful set of psychiatric nurse practitioners, we have the community counseling; there’s a lot of places that people can go for advice”.
We also asked how younger persons should handle the issue and what more can be done.
Mrs. Kathy Esquivel:
“Well, as I said, depends what the challenge is. Sometimes is the change of environment, sometimes it’s helping them to get out and have people interact with them, sometimes is medication, and the National Council on Aging and Help-age also do a lot of work in this regard”.
Reporter: “Now, what will you say to younger persons to deal with older persons who are battling with mental health challenges including dementia?
Mrs. Kathy Esquivel: “Well, sometimes younger people say, hmm, I no never want to get old! That is not a choice. We all get old. And so, younger people…many of them find that if they take the effort, they get a tremendous comfort. From talking to older people, they can often learn a lot. And so, it’s always worthwhile”.
A speech competition was held at St. John’s College this afternoon and the annual banquet will be held on October 12 at the Resource Center on Vernon and Tibruce Streets.