This May, CTN is observing Mental Health Awareness Month. According to the World Health Organization, one in four older adults experiences a mental disorder — and depression is the most common. Older adults are often at higher risk of mental health issues due to a lack of social connectivity and loneliness. Mental Health Awareness Month strives to shed light on these issues and emphasize the importance of good mental health to the well-being of our communities.
This year’s theme, “Tools 2 Thrive,” highlights the practical tools that everyone can use to improve their mental health and increase their resiliency regardless of their situation. For older adults, one of these tools is the internet.
In April, the University of Surrey released a study that quantifies the positive impact of internet use among older adults with mental health issues. The findings? Those who used the internet daily had much lower levels of depression symptoms and reported a higher quality of life compared to those who did not. These beneficial effects were particularly linked to using the internet for communication: “going online to stay connected with friends and family helped combat the negative psychological effects of social distancing and lockdown in adults aged 55-75.”
Another study published by University College London reports similar results. “While some studies suggest that spending an excessive amount of time on the internet correlates with negative mental health in younger age samples,” says Dr. Stephen Jivraj of UCL, “our research suggests that more should be done to encourage internet use among older adults, especially as a tool for building and maintaining social ties to improve wellbeing.”
The internet is more than a practical tool for everyday life. It is an essential point of connection that strengthens our social bonds and promotes good mental health. As we celebrate Mental Health Awareness Month, CTN is striving to get more seniors online and connected. Consider donating today!