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Is Mental Health Awareness Important? Jacaranda Trace says, “Yes!”

Taking care of your mind is just as important as taking care of your body. While the discussion surrounding mental illness, particularly for seniors, has become more prevalent in recent years, mental illness is not new. Mental Health America designated May as national Mental Health Awareness Month in 1949 to bring attention to the importance of mental well-being.

According to Mental Health America, “More than two million of the 34 million Americans age 65 and older suffer from some form of depression.” And anyone, regardless of age, gender, race, or income level can be affected. The attention given to mental health awareness is a positive change as many mental health conditions are treatable and even preventable.

What is good mental health?

Good mental health is more than just the absence of mental illness. It is a state of well-being where we can enjoy life, laugh, and have fun, as well as feel a sense of meaning and purpose. We can adjust to change and stress, as well as recover from adversity. Most of all, we can build and maintain fulfilling relationships.

A focus on mental health awareness

Jacaranda Trace recognizes the importance of good mental health and is proud to make it a priority. Director of Member Services, Susan Haley, LCSW, and Chaplain Anne Feibelman, MA, BCC, NAJC, champion programs such as Employee Assistance, Spiritual Life, Member Services, and Empath at Jacaranda Trace. We have put services in place that ensure our members and our team have the support they need.

Spiritual Care

“When I look into every person’s eyes, members and team, I see a spark of the divine and I want to fan it!” says Anne. She works daily with those who desire spiritual support and direction. She also offers services from listening, support, and answering prayer requests, to meditation and addressing spiritual questions and concerns. Anne empowers members to draw on their beliefs and faith. By doing this, they enhance their lives through an overall sense of well-being. The Spiritual Life program helps members improve social and familial relationships, and face life with more resilience and hope.

Anne makes sure everyone knows that Spiritual Life is ready to help. “Spiritual support is all about the art of listening” says Anne. She believes it is important to hear what’s behind the words. She also points out that Spiritual Life is there for the good times and those that are more challenging. But she admits that she very much enjoys celebrating the happy moments, like holidays, big birthdays, and renewals of vows. “These celebrations are the things that make all of us feel joy and comfort in our community.”

Personalized Support

There are many other ways members are supported. “I have the best job in the world!” shares Susan, who heads the Member Services and Employee Assistance programs. “The members at Jacaranda Trace are truly unique. I meet with every single one before they move in, and work with them to create a wellness profile and wellness plan, looking at the whole person and what’s unique to them.” Each plan provides a path to optimal wellness with personalized goals. This is central because our mental health can often be at the core of our ability to live productive and healthy lives. “I’m a resource.” adds Susan. “We have professional mental health counselors available to meet individually with members any time. We also have groups that meet regularly.”

Because physical health problems greatly increase the risk of developing mental health problems, we also focus on the physical self. We have a complimentary full-time fitness trainer on our team, and Empath is our onsite physical rehabilitation service. Together they help members improve their physical selves through healing and exercise. Physical ability and activity, of course, have a real impact on how we feel about ourselves; what we can do, and what we can accomplish. Through these physical health support programs, many of our members have shown marked improvement in not only what they can do, but what they want to do—achieving whole-self improvement.

We Support the Team that Supports our Members

All of our support around mental health awareness has an immensely positive impact on the Jacaranda Trace team as well. “Our team is such a cohesive and supportive group.” shares Anne.  “Everyone has a light about them. They provide extraordinary concierge service, care, and support, and members feel how happy they are. I have never been in a place like this.”

Our team is also supported by, and benefits from, the same plentiful resources that our members do. Susan organizes employee orientations for team members. “Just like for our members, I tell our team that my door is always open. I’m here to educate and support.”  All this reinforcement and education makes our team the best they can be for themselves and our members.

Team members are also trained to be aware of and sensitive to our members’ changes in mood or temperament. Our team knows what changes might indicate that a member could benefit from support. Catching potential issues early and offering a friendly ear or counseling can be a quick and easy remedy.

“We support our members and our team deeply. We want to know them and walk with them.” says Anne.

Community is Healing

“People age healthier in a senior living community like Jacaranda Trace,” says Susan.  Sadly, one of the biggest dangers facing seniors today is isolation. It not only affects an individual’s mental health negatively, but their physical health too.  “We have the support we all need, like other members who care and professional resources. Isolation is a big problem for seniors today and it impacts overall health. Here, we’re supportive and social all year round!”

There is a profound benefit to a senior living community setting, like the one we foster at Jacaranda Trace. The truth is, no matter our age, it is still possible to make meaningful connections and valuable friendships.

Advice from the experts

Mental health awareness is fundamental for all of us. Whether we live in a community like Jacaranda Trace or not, there are small but impactful ways of maintaining and improving mental health. These are just a few we can do every day to elevate mood and resilience:

  • Practice self-care—This means making yourself a priority by eating healthy, exercising, and getting enough sleep.
  • Disconnect from electronics and connect with people—Give yourself downtime from emails and alerts and spend more time face to face with people you care about.
  • Engage in meaningful activities—Do more of what makes you happy, feel productive, and creatively challenged.
  • Volunteer—Give your life a big dose of meaning and purpose by helping others and the community.
  • Practice meditation/mindfulness—This form of relaxation will improve your state of mind and outlook on life.
  • Get help if you need it—Getting help is a sign of strength, not weakness.

Need support?

At Jacaranda Trace, we know how important mental well-being is. We can all benefit from focusing on mental health awareness and preventing mental health problems. For those struggling with mental illness, treatment is effective. Timely and appropriate care can lead to a full, productive, and rewarding life.

If you or someone you care about is experiencing a mental health crisis, here are some free resources you can turn to: