Mental Health First Aid USA for Aging Citizens…Especially During a National Crisis…

Mental Health First Aid for Older Adults  from NYC Health…City of New York…

“Mental illness and aging can often be a double stigma. According to the National Council on Aging, the number of Americans 85 and older will triple by the year 2050. Older adults and care partners are less likely to identify a problem as a symptom of a mental health disorder. Furthermore, older adults have high rates of late onset mental health disorders (anxiety/depression) and low rates of identification and treatment. This curriculum module will help existing Adult MHFA Instructors in good standing reach this population with updated prevalence data, a new film, and scenarios.”

Go to…Mental Health First Aid 8 hour training…  The Mental Health First Aid USA for Older Adults curriculum is primarily focused on information participants can use to help adults ages 65 and over.

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I didn’t know until being certified as a Mental Health First Aid Adult Trainer in 2016 that mental health and depression in older adults is often ignored or dismissed. I also didn’t know that among the elderly population, aging white males commit suicide in America at a 98% higher rate than all others.  I was actually shocked at first but now understand why (Colorado State University report). “In the United States, older men of European descent (so-called white men) have significantly higher suicide rates than any other demographic group. For example, their suicide rates are significantly higher than those of older men of African, Latino or Indigenous descent, as well as relative to older women across ethnicities.”

Depression is the culprit, especially for those who have difficulty being as opposed to doing.  I consider myself in the category of an older white male who loves living in the moment or being, but also thrives in doing the things I care about.  When my own retirement became a reality, it was very tough to find the the new chapter of doing something that provided me with the same ego fulfilling experience as did my long corporate and business career.  I found after experimenting with volunteer work in the community and public service that making a difference for others gave me the balance needed to thrive and preserve a healthy mind and body.  We older Americans, by choice, can map out our lives by being ourselves in the context of all we care about, including pursuing professional and vocational outlets for continued growth and personal rewards.  We can also take in the romance and adventure offered in life by fulfilling your bucket list of the amazing places to visit and explore around the globe or at home.  There are so many things to do as we age, assuming our good health is maintained.

In terms of mental health awareness, there is a higher probability of achieving and maintaining a healthy frame of mind by staying actively engaged, especially in social groups in the community.  Humans are herding beings and starve for social interaction and attention. Humans are not designed to be alone.  We are also challenged in today’s world when families become separated by great distances and live their own busy lives.  Older adults can become lonely and depressed over time.  A healthy body can take a big hit over time if one’s mind becomes depressed.  Being alone and less than engaged or active with others can cause a person to stop eating in healthy ways and exercising to stay in good shape.  Health issues can take shape gradually by not being active.

Sometimes though it feels like there is no place for us older Americans, so giving up is a risk. There will be starts and stops along this journey of aging, even some failures that are painful or hurtful.  But never give up…keep pushing and trying with your heart and mind.  Yes, take a break when needed, then try something new.  Get engaged with a reset attitude with new goals and opportunities.  Never say, “I’m done, it’s over.”  It is not in our nature to give up on anybody or anything, so keep on keeping on.  We live so much longer now in the 21st Century.  We boomers in our 70’s are needed in our community with our exceptional leadership qualities, wisdom, and new energy.  My grandson told me several years ago that older adults are needed to  mentor the younger generation succeeding us.  We are needed, so don’t run away.  Get busy and make stuff happen.  And don’t forget to create a balance so that the needed nap in the afternoon comes easily.  Go on the adventure to Alaska or Australia.  Take in the cultural events in your community.  Spend quality time with your family and friends and experience all the joys that life has to offer.  Remember, getting older is a privilege…many never see the morning sun of old age.  We owe to ourselves and others to show the way with our wisdom until the very last day of our lives…

Judy and Steve Sparks, Children and Family Advocates…

“I’m Fine!” What does that mean?

Have you ever wondered the real meaning of “I’m fine!”? Pause, pause…

“I’m fine” is the consequence of stigma. Most who suffer from even average emotional challenges are all too often shunned in society. So much so that going untreated and not shared with others will often grow worse.

Other unhealthy ways like alcohol and drugs will be the outlet. And why we as intelligent humans allow this to happen?

We are not open to what is considered a scary and uncomfortable conversation for most. In fact a trigger for others who need to talk in a safe place.

Once untreated serious depressive symptoms appear, suicide becomes a much higher risk, especially for white males in 70s. Find out why?

Please think about the unintended consequences. Ask yourself if your friend, loved one or colleague needs help. Just listen and build trust, no hurry. Take a Mental Health FirstAid USA class. You can make a difference and save lives…

Judy and Steve Sparks, SparksAssociates, “Building Healthy Communities w/Love.”

Mental Health FirstAid USA…Local Communities and Technology Lead…

ALGEE the Koala Bear…Mental Health FirstAid USA Mascot

Mental Health First Aid USA training in your local community…

For more than 60 years, May has been nationally recognized as Mental Health Awareness Month.

“Mental wellness is essential for peak cognitive and physical performance and ensures the readiness of our service members. Military Health System (MHS) focuses on the mental wellness of service members, their families, retirees, and DoD civilians. We will highlight the tools and resources available for the prevention and treatment of the DoD community’s overall mental wellness.”

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I’m pleased to share that Mental Health First Aid training has become a standard in Lincoln County Oregon and all over America!  A gift to a caring and healing community culture. As City Councilor in 2015, I was happy to take the lead to bring Mental Health 1st Aid training to our City of Depoe Bay, Oregon with the help of Lincoln County Health & Human Services.  This what has happened since then…the early days… We have come along way as a Trauma Informed Oregon community! Technology makes it possible to deliver programs instantly without waiting for a trainer…a kickstart if you will. Take a listen…

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Mental Health First Aid

is an in-person training that teaches you how to help people developing a mental illness or in a crisis.

Mental Health First Aid teaches you:

  •  Signs of addictions and mental illnesses
  •  5-step action plan to assess a situation and help 
  •  Impact of mental and substance use disorders
  •  Local resources and where to turn for help

The State of Oregon is making mental health a top priority going forward with a campaign  slogan, “Can’t We Do More?”  It is the responsibility of local and county government, private, and public leadership to take advantage of this training. I have written previously in this blog about the need to do more in rural communities for mental health awareness... click on highlighted text for more…

You can make a difference in your own community all year by taking a look at the Mental Health First Aid program for your own needs as a business, school or public service organization.  Please review the references and resources available and take action.  Mental Health 1st Aid is just as critical as getting training for first-aid best practices in general.  Lives are saved through a higher level of awareness of all health and wellness challenges in local communities everywhere.

When I was traineded and certified as a Mental Health First Aid Adult Trainer in the fall of 2016, the increased awarenes changed my life forever. I could not only understand my own behavioral health better, I developed a much higher sensitivity, compassion and empathy for those who suffer among us with mental health challenges. As co-workers, peers, and managers, a little kindness and understanding, a calming influence from a culture of caring in the work place will save lives. In my view, ‘suicide prevention’ is the highest priority in Mental Health FirstAid USA. You can make a difference!

Steve and Judy Sparks, Children and Family Advocates. Click
here for my author page…

The Wrath of Stigma!

My Journey of Healing, Part2

“The Wrath of Stigma!” is the first chapter of my book, My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 2..

Following is an excerpt… This book was written especially for parents, teachers, and caregivers.

“Stigma is a self-fulfilling prophecy,” they say…  “After all the research and writing on the subject of PTS/PTSD, including my blog archives with close to 1000 postings offering tons of information about my own experience, references and resources with the goal to help others, the human condition of STIGMA leaves me stone cold and in a quandary.  It is clear that we should all seek treatment immediately following a moral injury and living with the awful symptoms of depression and anxiety, including panic attacks.  But it would be dishonest for me to suggest to anyone who fears losing opportunities and dreams of career success, especially loving relationships and spiritual growth in life, to ever admit a mental health challenge.

My latest book is dedicated to the 70th Anniversary of the End of WWII.

Judy and Steve Sparks, Children and Family Advocacy

Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story and My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 1.  Click on highlighted text for my author page…