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Honor Your Mental Health on World Mental Health Day

By Tam Cooper | 10/08/2021

An older adult meditating

October 10, is World Mental Health Day. Those of us who serve on the staff of the Behavioral Health Services (BHS) department of the Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging demonstrate our dedication and commitment to helping older adults with mental health issues not only on this special day, but every day. Our organization has a long history of service to those older adults who struggle with their mental health.  We believe that recognizing the importance of breaking the stigma attached to mental health issues and encouraging all people to take care of themselves, especially their emotional and mental wellbeing, is key to a life well lived.

The challenges of caring for mental health

Under the best of circumstances, dealing with one’s mental health requires good self-care, and is often a partnership with a psychiatrist, primary physician and mental health professional. But life rarely offers ideal conditions, and stress, a common factor in the condition of one’s mental health, is hard to avoid. The more someone worries, the more it leads to stress, which according to research leads to anxiety, which in itself is classified as a mental health disorder. Anxiety can then lead to even more serious mental health problems. 

As we enter another year of COVID-19 and its variants, the uncertainty of what life looks like with these new pandemic concerns is becoming increasingly stressful. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), nearly half of the U.S. adults (47 percent) said the level of stress in their life has increased since the pandemic. With that additional stress, mental health professionals are seeing a rise in various mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

There continues to be a stigma around seeking help for one’s mental health. Many people think they should “tough it out,” that it will go away or that getting help is a sign of weakness. Others are scared someone will label them as “crazy” or “irresponsible.”
While this stigma regarding mental health still exists, in today’s society, more and more people are speaking out about their struggle with mental health issues. More importantly, they are discussing how they have learned to live a full and rewarding life while managing the symptoms of their disorder. It is this openness that is helping normalize mental health issues and treatment.

What can we do to improve mental wellbeing?

As we recognize World Mental Health Day, here are some techniques to help honor our emotional wellbeing:

1. Practice mindfulness

Focus on the present moment, don’t look back and don’t look into the future. Looking back often leads us to evaluate or judge what has past and what can not be changed. Looking forward, especially during the current pandemic, may raise feelings of fear due to the many unknowns. Staying in the present increases the acceptance of and ability to experience what is, helping to balance painful feelings and thoughts.

2. Exercise

Any type of movement, from chair exercises, yoga or walking around the block, helps to relieve stress. Experts say that just a ten minute walk a day can help to relieve anxiety and depression.

We should remember to consult with a doctor before starting a new exercise routine.

3.  Focus on breathing

Experts recommend exhaling twice as long as we inhale, and repeating this breathing pattern for five to seven minutes. Doing so gives the brain enough time to switch from that anxious “fight or flight” mode to more of a sense of calmness.

4.  Hold something very cold, like an ice cube.

A recent article in Forbes Life suggests that holding a cold object in your hand helps redirect the mind into focusing on the cold sensation in your hand, instead of thoughts of stress and anxiety.

5. Seek help

Finally, and most importantly, if you continue to feel anxious, depressed or overwhelmed by your mental health issues, reach out to professionals who can help.
Check with your local Department of Aging, Office of Health and Human Resources, or local Alcohol Drug and Mental Health board.  Either of these agencies should be able to direct you to local behavioral health resources. The Behavioral Health Services Department at Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging can be reached through Intake, at 216-791-8000 or email

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Behavioral Health Services

Benjamin Rose's Behavioral Health Services provides holistic mental health care to help older adults in the Greater Cleveland area manage symptoms.