When to talk about mental health

Archive, May, Month

Listen as a social worker discusses how to recognize behavioral health issues in others.

“I think, particularly for the elderly, they grew up with many of them with the mindset of you just kind of pull yourself up by your bootstraps, right? You don't talk about how you feel, you just go, and you get it done.”

Theresa Chapman, a career social worker and the program director of the McLaren Macomb Senior Behavioral Health Center, recognizes that many people may be hesitant to talk about their own mental health.

The responsibility can fall to loved ones to recognize significant changes in behavior.

“We slow down, we might be a little bit forgetful,” she said. “But the things that I like to tell people is it's when the forgetfulness is causing a change in behavior, or it might be putting your loved one at risk for their safety.”

Interview with Theresa Chapman
Chapman continues, “Are they not eating and not sleeping like they used to? Sometimes those behavioral things are easier for families to see. And even sometimes patients themselves will say, I just don't feel like going out anymore. And they haven't seen their friends or been in regular activities for weeks more though than they would say, I'm really sad and I'm thinking maybe life isn't worth it.

“A lot of times I say, look for those behavioral clues first, the elderly are not always necessarily going to be expressing what they're feeling or thinking.”

The prevalence of mental health conditions is senior citizens is increasing — roughly 1 in every 5 adults over age 55 have a mental health condition.

While recognizing the signs of a health issue is critical, so too is knowing the resources located within your community.