The spread and magnitude of the impact of COVID-19 in Australia on mental health is yet to be fully realised.
Necessary physical distancing requirements over the past 18 months have meant many personal adjustments have needed to be adopted, with significant increases in feelings of social isolation and loneliness.
To address this pertinent issue, the Eastern Suburbs Older Persons’ Mental Health Service is hosting its 20th Positive Ageing forum as a free webinar, from 10am to noon on Wednesday, October 27 with prominent guest speaker and acclaimed author, social psychologist and researcher, Hugh Mackay AO.
The forum, Keeping Connected: Social health and ageing, will focus on the fundamental need for social connection – particularly in light of the global pandemic.
It boasts a series of presentations from some of Australia’s pre-eminent academics and leaders in the field of connectedness, including clinician and researcher Professor Henry Brodaty AO who will present surprising findings about resilience to stress and recommendations on how to be more resilient.
Brodaty is Co-Director of UNSW Sydney’s Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing and Honorary Medical Officer of the Older Persons’ Mental Health Service, Prince of Wales Hospital and says COVID-19 has been stressful for all, especially older people.
“The implementation of strategies to cope with stress and feelings of isolation are paramount to maintaining good mental health during this time,” he says.
Mackay, author of The Kindness Revolution, will share his expert opinion on the challenges we have faced in the past two years and how that impacts our views on our lives and on society as a whole.
“Revolutions never start at the top,” he says.
“If we dare to dream of a more loving country – kinder, more compassionate, more cooperative, more respectful, more inclusive and less cynical – there’s only one way to start turning that dream into a reality: each of us must live as if this is already that country.”
Other speakers include Dr Stephanie Ward, senior research fellow at the Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing (CHeBA) and staff specialist in geriatric medicine at the Prince of Wales Hospital, and Dr Suraj Samtani, clinical psychologist and postdoctoral fellow at CHeBA.
Ward, who was the lead geriatrician on ABC TV’s popular Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds will speak about the magic of intergenerational connections.
“While being connected to others is important for well-being, connections between the different generations can be particularly special,” Ward says.
Samtani, who leads a CHeBA project designed to uncover the links between social and brain factors connected to cognitive decline, will focus his talk on social connectedness for maintaining mental health.
“By exploring the latest science we can unveil whether we need a certain type or amount of social connection to protect us against anxiety and depression,” Samtani says.
Registration is essential for this free, online event:
The event is sponsored by the South Eastern Sydney Local Health District, and is hosted in conjunction with the Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing (CHeBA).