When Jan Robertson’s grandparents battled mental illness, she said there was nowhere for them to ask for help.
“They just had to suffer with their sorrow,” said Robertson, a volunteer for the National Alliance on Mental Illness West Central Indiana, a grassroots organization providing education and support groups for people living with mental illness and their families.
NAMI was among local agencies meeting with seniors and caregivers Friday at the Crawfordsville Community Center in the last of a series of health fairs sponsored by Food Finders Food Bank.
Food Finders is boosting outreach to older adults by screening and enrolling eligible clients in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and connecting them with other benefits their staff cannot provide.
“Sort of a warm handoff is what we like to call it,” said director of programs Adam Meyer, as clients filled out screening questionnaires.
Meyer said Food Finders has sent in SNAP paperwork for up to 35 seniors through the fairs. The organization hope to plan more area health fairs next year.
Representatives from hospitals, clinics, insurance companies, bereavement services and other agencies were on hand to consult with seniors.
At the NAMI booth, Robertson and fellow volunteer Jules Kauffman said seniors often talk about their struggles with depression, loneliness and anxiety.
The organization offers daily activities for people of all ages at its Lafayette offices, training programs for companies, community groups and law enforcement, and social gatherings, all free of charge.
Volunteers say it’s typically more difficult for seniors to confront mental health issues due to lingering stigma.
“They will admit that they have never told anyone that they may have suffered for 50 to 60 years,” Robertson said.
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