Even before COVID, loneliness was a problem in America.
A 2018 study found that only 53 percent of U.S. adults said that they had meaningful, in-person connections every day. Since the pandemic, even fewer adults have had the opportunity for daily in-person connections – meaningful or otherwise.
Earlier this year, Karen VonDeylen, Prevention Manager with Maumee Valley Guidance Center, spoke at a NAMI meeting about the increase in loneliness and its impact on depression – particularly among the elderly.
She noted that the social distancing and isolation that was recommended to slow the spread of the virus has been especially difficult for the elderly, many of whom live alone or with only a spouse.
Older people may prefer in-person relationships, such as family get-togethers, church, volunteering, senior centers and so forth, the type that COVID restrictions reduced or eliminated.
While social distancing may have reduced the spread of the virus, it also contributed to loneliness. “For people who already had depression, the isolation increased their depression,” she said. “And, for others it led to depression.”
Now, as access to corona virus vaccines increases, it’s likely that people will soon be able to resume some of the activities that encouraged meaningful connections. But, VonDeylen urged persons who have experienced depression to recognize the illness’ symptoms and seek help if they suspect that they may suffer from depression. “Depression isn’t a normal part of aging,” she said. “It’s okay to seek help.”
Many times, older persons are reluctant to acknowledge that they may be depressed, much less seek medical help for it even though treatment options are effective.
Some of the more common symptoms of depression in the elderly include:
■ Lack of energy or motivation.
■ Change in sleep habits – either sleeping a lot or difficulty falling asleep.
■ Personality changes, such as sadness or irritability.
■ Loss of interest in activities that were once enjoyable.
■ Not taking care of oneself – whether personal hygiene, meal preparation, etc.
According to VonDeylen, family or friends who suspect that an older loved one may be depressed should let the person know that they are concerned about changes that they have noticed.
In addition to telling their loved one what they have noticed, also…
■ Listen to what the loved one has to say without passing judgment.
■ Ask if there is someone, such as a doctor, who they might be willing to talk with about the changes, and
■ Ask if there is anything that they could do to help, such as run an errand or regularly check in with their loved one.
NAMI was founded in 1977 in Madison, Wisconsin by Harriet Shetler and Beverly Young. The two women shared the experience of raising a child with a serious mental illness. They decided to assemble a group of people with similar concerns. Within six months, 75 people had joined.
Young and Shetler decided to hold a national conference, hoping for around 35 people. 284 representatives from 59 groups (representing 29 states) showed up. By the end of the conference, a national group, The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill had been formed, named and financed. It was renamed The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) to further reduce stigma and the discrimination associated with mental illness.
NAMI is now based in Arlington, Virginia. NAMI has over 1,000 local affiliates groups comprised of consumers, family members, friends of people with mental illness and professionals.
National alliance on mental illness. (2021, February 26). Retrieved March 03, 2021.
NAMI Wisconsin History. (n.d.). Retrieved March 03, 2021.
The Wauseon VFW Post 7424 has once again made a donation to NAMI Four County to help sponsor our free community Mental Health First Aid trainings. Wauseon VFW has also been the host site for the Dennis Deeds Suicide Awareness Motorcycle benefit for the last three years. Over the last two years the Post has donated a total of $700 to NAMI to help underwrite the cost of the free trainings.
Thank-you, Wauseon VFW Post 7424 help NAMI Four County make more people aware of suicide and how to prevent it from occurring in youth and a
NAMI would like to thank all of the staff who work at agencies in Defiance, Fulton, Henry and Williams county who serve persons living with a mental illness and their families for their dedicated service during the COVID-19 pandemic. The trying times of staying at home, keeping social distance, wearing a mask and more have certainly changed the way that they have done their jobs, but it hasn't changed their commitment to helping individuals and families who continue to need their help and support. Thank-you!
NAMI Ohio recently printed hundreds of these signs for agencies all across our state who serve individuals and families living with mental illness. Locally, NAMI Four County has placed these signs at seven locations; however, our heroes aren't just found at those locations. They can be found at more than 35 locations in our area where dedicated people continue to make sure that counseling and therapy, medications and lab work, housing and transportation, case management, and encouragement are provided even in these difficult times.
By: Alan Johnson, NAMI Ohio
As Ohioans slowly begin returning to work in the next few weeks, it’s natural to feel a good deal of anxiety and fear.
Gov. Mike DeWine’s announcement this week that Ohio will gradually, and with great caution, return to work is no doubt being met with a combination of relief and concern by the most Ohioans, particularly those with existing mental illness.
While times remain uncertain, mental health officials shared with the National Alliance on Mental illness of Ohio some helpful suggestions to potentially deal with back-to-work worries.
IT’S OKAY TO BE ANXIOUS
“It’s definitely a time of uncertainty. The big thing is it’s invisible and unpredictable,” said Vicki Montesano, chief of mental health treatment for the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services. ”Anxiety and unpredictably exacerbate it when we can’t control the situation.”
Montesano says what we all know: “We look around and life as we know it is going to change.”
Dr. Douglas Smith, medical director of the Summit County Alcohol Drug Addiction & Mental Services Board, agreed. “One big message is its okay to be anxious. It’s part of the human experience and you’re not alone.” Smith is interim Director of Psychiatry at the Northeast Ohio Medical University and a NAMI Ohio board member.
Both Montesano and Smith agree that recognizing anxiety and fears rather than trying to ignore or hide them is crucial as the recovery from the long COVID-19 quarantine unfolds.
GET HELP IF YOU NEED IT
“You don’t necessarily have a panic disorder if you are a little bit afraid about walking into the grocery store,” Montesano said. “But it’s important to get help if you need. Don’t wait too long if your symptoms are serious and you’re struggling.”
“Therapy is helpful for insight into learning about oneself,” she said. “It can help you work through anxiety and fear. We are probably in this for the long haul.”
Smith said people who have mental health providers should keep in touch with them, even if appointments are done virtually through a computer or phone. There will be issues to work through, including dealing with the return to work-life balance, a new or increased workload, financial concerns, and trauma from the two-month isolation.
“They should be open and discuss their issues with a professional who knows them well,” Smith said. “They need to look for their support systems, including family, friends and NAMI.”
EMBRACE THE RETURN TO STRUCTURE
“Paying attention to our thoughts is something we are not trained to do,” Montesano said. “Temper those thoughts: try to find a middle ground. We’ve got a scary invisible enemy out there. But it doesn’t have to be like I’m walking into a black hole.”
“Be kinder to yourself. If you have anxiety, try deep breathing exercises,” she said. “Try to get back to eating right, stay away from caffeine and sugar as much as possible. Get outside and get some exercise and pay attention to what’s going on in the world.”
Smith said a big problem people have faced during the quarantine is a lack of structure in their lives, especially if they are not working or are working from home.
“Most people do better with structure in their life,” he said. “Part of the problem with the last six weeks or so is there has been no structure. I enjoy my weekly venture to Walmart, but it’s different.”
“Everybody craves that vacation but it’s different now that we’ve disrupted our schedules. Sleep is off, work is off, exercise is off. We must adapt to the new situation.”
GET SOME SLEEP, PET YOUR DOG
Both of those sound simple, but they’re invaluable, Montesano and Smith agreed.
“Sleep is very important,” Montesano said. “Try to do the same thing every single night. Have a routine. Turn off the television and the phone.”
“Embrace the structure, even if you’re not in the first wave of going back to work,” Smith said. “Human are social animals and we need some sort of connections like we have with co-workers.”
As for petting your dog, or cat, that’s one of several relaxation techniques recommended by both experts. Others are listening to music, prayer, meditation, mindfulness exercises and progressive muscle relaxation to ease tension in the body head to toe.
The 4th annual Suicide Awareness Bike Ride held in July and organized by Julie Deeds, her family and friends in memory of her husband, Dennis who completed suicide in October 2012, raised $10,200. The amount was shared by NAMI Four County, the Operation KAVIC (Keller Assists Veterans in Crisis) program, and the Maumee Valley Guidance Center veterans’ outreach program.
The first benefit in 2017 netted $325 and involved about 12 riders. This year’s ride included just over 100 registered motorcycles. NAMI Four County, the local affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, has been a beneficiary of the ride every year. Last year, the net proceeds were split between the three groups.
NAMI Four County will use its share of the proceeds, which included a $2,200 donation from the Wauseon VFW Post 7424, to support both youth and adult Mental Health First Aid trainings that the group offers at no cost to persons whose work or volunteer activities may bring them in contact with persons experiencing a mental health crisis. Family members and friends are also welcome to participate in the free day-long class.
Each training participant receives a comprehensive manual on behavioral health disorders that has been developed to complement the class by Mental Health First Aid USA as well as lunch and free continuing education hours.
Keller Logistics of Defiance raises money to support the KAVIC program, which assists Defiance County veterans. The Defiance County Veterans Affairs Office refers veterans with needs that are not covered by the Veterans Administration to the program.
Maumee Valley Guidance Center veterans’ outreach program serves veterans in Defiance, Fulton, Henry and Williams counties and also provides referrals and assistance for services that are not covered by the Veterans Administration, including time-limited financial assistance to third parties for veterans needing help with rent, utilities, moving expenses, security and utility deposits, transportation and emergency supplies.
The benefit funding that Maumee Valley has received will be used to help veterans in Fulton, Henry and Williams counties who are not eligible for KAVIC program assistance.
Although Dennis Deeds was not a veteran, his wife Julie explains that he was very patriotic and had great respect for persons who served in the military. She added that she and her son, Justin, wanted to do whatever they could with some of the proceeds to help veterans, including those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and any other mental health issue.
Pictured are representatives of the three organizations that received funding from the ride with three generations of the Deeds family. From left: Rob Spengler, NAMI Four County board member; Jenny Hoeffel, manager of Maumee Valley Guidance Center’s supportive services for veterans’ families; Julie Deeds with her grandson Bronsyn and son Justin; and Melissa Martin, Operation KAVIC coordinator.
Ride benefits NAMI suicide awareness trainings, Maumee Valley Guidance Center veterans' outreach program and KAVICRead Now
A record number of motorcycles and riders participated in the 4th annual Suicide Awareness bike ride on Saturday, July 11. It took nearly two minutes for more than 100 bikes to empty the Wauseon VFW Post 7424 parking lot as part of the Team Deeds benefit. Julie Deeds and her son Justin and their friends organized the first ride in 2017 with 12 bikes participating. They organized the event to raise awareness of mental health issues and to prevent suicide, which took the life of Julie's husband, Dennis, in 2012.
In addition to the ride, Julie and her crew put together a silent auction, raffles, door prizes and food for participants. Registration was $20 per rider and $10 for passengers and non-riders.
Some 101 motorcycles -- many with two riders -- were signed up to participate in the 4th Annual Dennis Deeds Memorial Suicide Awareness Bike Ride on Saturday, July 11. It took more than two minutes for all of the bikes to leave the VFW parking lot in Wauseon. The Wauseon Police Department and Fulton County Sheriff's Office provided the escort.
WATCH A SLIDE SHOW OF 101 MOTORCYCLES LEAVING THE FROM WAUSEON VFW POST 7424 BELOW.
With restrictions on group gatherings due to the CO VID-19 pandemic, our spring mental health education class schedule has been canceled. We will re-schedule the all-day Youth Mental Health First Aid training that is currently scheduled for Thursday, April 30. At this time, we are not able to announce a rescheduled date until we better idea of when group gathering restrictions will be lifted. Likewise, we have canceled the May 30 three-hour training on Strategies for Managing Challenging Behavior in Youth.
If you are interested in participating in either of these FREE trainings, then please email Billie Jo Horner at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 419-906-5569 with your name, contact information and the training(s) that you are interested in attending and you will be contacted by her once a new date has been set for the Youth Mental Health First Aid training and the Strategies for Managing Challenging Behavior in Youth.
Youth Mental Health First Aid. An all-day training for persons whose job or volunteer work involves youth and families as well as parents, grandparents, foster parents and other caregivers of youth. Participants will learn how to identify and help youth who may be experiencing a mental health crisis. A rescheduled date will be announced once we have a better idea of when restrictions will be lifted on group gatherings.
Strategies for Managing Challenging Behavior in Youth. A 3-hour workshop offered in partnership with the Defiance College Hench Autism Studies Program for parents, grandparents, caregivers or volunteers who work with youth who may have disruptive, challenging behaviors and youth who do not respond to your requests to stop the behavior(s).
NAMI members and friends gathered at the Scout Cabin in Archbold's Ruihley Park for our annual holiday party and potluck. In addition to fellowship and a good meal, everyone enjoyed Ed Clinker playing holiday music on the piano and our ever popular evening of "robber" gift exchange. Merry Christmas and best wishes for a Happy, Healthy New Year from your friends at NAMI Four County!
Scouts and leaders from Archbold Boy Scout Troop 63 again helped serve at our 5th annual Spaghetti Dinner fundraiser held November 7 at the Buffalo Road Banquet Hall in Bryan. In addition to NAMI members, two other groups volunteered at the dinner as well -- Kohl's department store associates (who volunteer for NAMI projects throughout the year) and First Federal Bank's wealth management group. A slide show of photos from the dinner is posted at the end of the list of sponsors.
Thank-you to all who attended and helped make the event a success!
Thanks to our spaghetti dinner sponsors
C & C Fabricating LLC
First Federal Bank of the Midwest
Fulton County Health Center
Jade Shank Trucking
Newcomer, Shaffer, Spangler & Breininger
Team Green LLC
Gold Level Sponsors
Bryan Dental Group
Henry County Hospital
Midwest Community Federal Credit Union
Office Partners, Cookie Lehman
Parkview Physicians Group
Spangler Candy Company
Valko & Associates
Silver Level Sponsors
Christy Chevrolet Buick, Inc.
Jim Schmidt Family of Dealerships
Lori & Rex Robison
Local 211 UAW
Bronze Level Sponsors
Hill Top Printing
Jason Dietsch Trailer Sales, Inc.
Lonnie and Carol Short
Northwest Ohio Vision Center