Houston-area organizations offer mental health help for those in need
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration on Aging, the most common mental health concerns of older adults are anxiety, severe cognitive impairment and depression. In fact, adults over the age of 65 have the highest rate of suicide in the United States, with depression being the most prevalent risk factor.
For many Americans, struggling with a mental illness is an issue that can be very challenging to deal with, especially with the costs associated with therapy sessions, and the stress that can come with finding a recommended professional. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), one in five Americans experiences mental illness every year, with nearly 60 percent of not receiving mental health services in the past year, and 50 percent not doing so because of cost, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health.
However, there are various local resources for aging adults available within the greater Houston area, many of which can come at little to no cost.
“Many people believe that experiencing a mental health concern like depression is a normal part of aging, but the reality is depression is a treatable medical condition that is not a normal part of aging,” said Traci Patterson, director of communications, Mental Health America of Greater Houston. “There are many reasons why an older adult may experience symptoms of a mental health condition including changes in their roles, living arrangements, ability to perform certain activities, deaths of loved ones or medical conditions. If you are concerned, it could be helpful to offer to go with him or her to see a health care provider to be diagnosed and treated.”
MHA of Greater Houston is a mental health education and advocacy organization focused on shaping the mental health of people and communities of all ages and backgrounds, including veterans and aging adults.
The organization actively works to educate the community about mental illness, teaching them to approach it with compassion and proper treatment, and to link people to available mental health services.
As a community service, MHA of Greater Houston offers The Guide (www.mhahouston.org/find-help/), a free publication that offers sliding-scale or low-cost behavioral health services for seniors and others in the greater Houston area.
MHA of Greater Houston, which is a United Way Agency, also suggests calling 2-1-1 for additional mental health and social service resources.
NAMI’s Greater Houston chapter also provides free education programs, peer-facilitated support groups, and grassroots advocacy initiatives to assist families and caregivers in better understanding the challenges that come with living with a mental illness.
NAMI Greater Houston works to promote the development of community mental health programs and services, improve access to services, increase opportunities for recovery, reduce stigma and discrimination, and increase public understanding of mental illness.
“It is important to encourage people to age well by helping them to preserve their mental health and general health as well a sense of vitality and fulfillment as they age,” Patterson said. “Aging well includes having a sense of purpose and a way to express that purpose.”
For more information about MHA of Greater Houston’s available resources, visit www.mhahouston.org.
For a list of free classes, programs and other mental health resources provided by NAMI Greater Houston, visit www.namigreaterhouston.org.