Good mental health isn’t simply the absence of mental illness

Good mental health isn’t simply the absence of mental illness, you have to work on it throughout your entire life

  • During Mental Health Awareness Week, age-tech brand The Joy Club is on a mission to raise awareness of the importance of mental health among those in later life and the role technology and community can play in it. 
  • In the UK, almost one quarter (22%) of our population will be aged 65 and over within the next decade – that’s 13 million people. 

According to the WHO, some of the most common health conditions associated with ageing are hearing loss, joint pain, visual impairment and dementia. Looking after one’s mental health, on the other hand, is often viewed as the concern of younger demographics, with media coverage appearing to focus on the struggles of Gen Z and Millenials. In a bid to challenge this stereotype, online activities platform, The Joy Club, recently surveyed its members on the topic and found that those in later life still place a high value on the importance of mental health after retirement. 

Sandra Lawes, a member of The Joy Club, explains her take on it and how the platform helped her to look after her own mental health. 

Sandra Lawes said: “In later life there is an emphasis on maintaining good physical health. The trend is to talk about hair loss, hearing loss and osteoarthritis with little or no conversation around mental health. When it is spoken about, it’s often stated that good mental health is the absence of mental illness like depression and anxiety. But this is not true. 

“I believe you need to be proactively taking positive steps towards improving and maintaining good mental health, just like physical health. In my experience this has been harder the older I get. 

“Why? Because whilst every stage of life is challenging whether it’s teenage years or middle age, the difference is that – until you are a senior – you always have hope that things will work out and get better. But as soon as you hit later life you suddenly realise: time is finite. 

“Nobody knows how long you’ve got so it’s very important to live life to the fullest. Taking care of and improving your mental health is crucial for this.”

Sandra adds: “As we get older, we can become more isolated and begin to lose loved ones and friends who previously made up our core social circle. This loneliness can eat away at our mental wellbeing – so we need to be proactively looking at maintaining a good mental health and positive outlook on life. 

“Life does occasionally drag you down so you have to do something to bring you back up again. The Joy Club gives me motivation to make the most of every day and helps revive my interest in life. Whether I’m painting or doing yoga, it’s the sense of community that often gives me that motivation to get up and out.” 

Hannah Thomson, Founder CEO of The Joy Club commented: “The vast majority of our members agree that mental health is as important as physical health. While good mental health is important across the whole lifespan, for those in later life the impact of specific factors such as bereavement from losing peers or loved ones loss of structure and purpose when leaving the workforce; and, the experience of ageism in society can be particularly detrimental. 

“It’s vital that we use all the tools at our disposal to both challenge unhelpful stereotypes around ageing and to support the holistic wellbeing of those in later life. At The Joy Club, we believe that technology will increasingly play an important role in supporting the physical, mental and intellectual wellbeing of those in later life. For us, that means enabling our members to learn new skills and connect with others at a similar lifestage through access to online experiences and community. We reject the stereotype that older adults ‘aren’t good with technology’ and instead have involved them directly with the development of The Joy Club. This creates a space where our demographic’s voices are not only heard, but celebrated – helping to instil our members with a sense of purpose and reflecting a positive image of what it means to grow older in today’s society.”

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