Our free calendar “Hot Tips” aims to ensure everyone in Scotland knows about the organisations and services available to them, and how to make the most of later life.
February’s theme is “Keeping mentally well” and offers tips on dealing with stressful events and challenges. In this blog, Age Scotland’s Karyn Davie looks in more detail at some of the things people should be aware of with their own mental health and wellbeing.
Your mental health is like an escalator, you can go up or down depending on life’s events. When things are going well you might move up, but if something comes along to upset the balance, like changes to physical health, relationships problems or worries about family or money, you might find yourself sliding down.
Sometimes, there’s no clear reason why we feel like this. Changes in our mental health can happen to anyone at any age and, sometimes, regaining the balance can prove difficult.
The stigma around mental health means people don’t always talk about it. Many older people find it particularly hard to talk about their feelings, perhaps due to a sense of shame or embarrassment, not knowing why they feel the way they do, or simply not wanting to admit they’re aren’t coping.
Men, and older men in particular, typically hide or deny mental health problems, preferring to keep feelings to themselves or not to reveal perceived signs of personal weakness.
We often find it easier to talk about physical health problems than the way we feel. Anyone can experience a mental health problem, so talking about it really is important.
If you notice a friend or family member withdrawing, try understanding what they’re going through. Their difficulties may be only temporary. If you’re concerned, you could ask (in your own words):
- How are you feeling?
- I’ve been worried about you, how are you?
- You seem down, is there anything I can do to help?
- Avoid cliché phrases like ‘Cheer up!’ or ‘I’m sure it’ll pass’.
Give them time and space until they’re ready to talk and ensure they know they can contact you when they’re ready. Just knowing they don’t have to avoid the issue with you is helpful.
Remember that the person hasn’t changed, they’re just going through a bad patch with their mental health, so keep talking about the things you always talked about. Just spending time with the person lets them know you care.
Further information can be found from the following organisations:
- http://oldermenswellbeing.co.uk – contains information for older men
If you don’t have access to the internet, or if you experience feelings of loneliness and don’t have the social contact you feel you need, contact Silver Line Scotland for help on 0800 4 70 80 90.
Download your 2015 Hot Tips Calendar here and get information and advice throughout the year. Here’s what you’ve thought about Hot Tips so far:
- “Thank you for the calendar – useful & attractive”
- “I do not think you could do any better. This is wonderful”
- “Thank you for caring”