Navigate mental health with experts at the first 2019 OhioHealth HOOFit Walk

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COLUMBUS - Seeking help for obvious injuries or illnesses can often come naturally.

When a person comes down with a virus, they typically head to the doctor for relief but when someone’s mental health declines, it can be hard to tell right away, and sometimes harder to know where to go or what to do.

10TV talked with experts at OhioHealth about identifying mental health needs.

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“The biggest problem is that people don’t want to talk about mental health,” said Edward “ted” Jago, a volunteer at the OhioHealth Gerlach Center for Senior Health.

The subject is not one Jago shies away from.

“I think it’s so easy for people to slip into a mode where they don’t want to recognize that somebody else has a problem or that they’ve got a problem and so often as we lose our mental ability, I don’t think we even recognize it ourselves,” Jago said.

Jago knows the importance of both mental and physical health. Just 18-months ago Jago dealt with several physical setbacks, teaching him the two are truly intertwined.

“Exercise is certainly part of maintaining the brain working properly, absolutely,” he said.

Doctors at the OhioHealth Gerlach Center for Senior Health where Jago volunteers agree that maintaining physical health is key to staying mentally fit.

“Physical activity is going to decrease your cardio vascular health risks and increase your stamina for activities throughout your day,” according to Dr. Kathleen Hager, a physician and geriatrician at OhioHealth’s Gerlach Center for Senior Health. “So, you’re more likely to be able to engage in hobbies and things you want to do, which then increases your mood.”

Jago’s volunteer work, helping seniors adapt to and overcome issues with technology at the Gerlach Center, is one of his hobbies, he explained.

“It’s just finding something that interests you that can be of value to somebody else,” Jago said.

Volunteering provides Jago that social engagement, which Dr. Hager says is key to staying mentally healthy, more so than simply having a social presence.

“The social activity component is more than just a physical presence of someone being there or someone just having a conversation,” Dr. Hager said. “We really want it to be an engaging social experience.”

Jago speaks from his experience when he says, “I would encourage people to start as early as they can.”

Building a support system early on is what can lead people to mental health success later on in life, Jago said.

“Somebody else has to, somehow, lead you in the right direction and that requires a community to do that,” he said.

Especially, as Dr. Hager explained, as aging can exaggerate some issues leading to mental health decline.

“It is the unfortunate reality of aging that people do experience losses, situational changes, for instance they may lose independence or function, loss of a loved one and chronic medial illnesses that bring on things like chronic pain, trouble sleeping, memory loss, that kind of does create a lot of stress and depression for patients,” she said.

But while family plays an important role in overcoming issues with mental health, it’s important for people of any age to advocate for themselves and seek help, Dr. Hager said.

“At the end of the day, you know yourself the best,” she said. “So, if you’re worried about a change it’s important to mention that to your physician.”

Have more questions about what signs to look for or where to seek help?

Join 10TV and OhioHealth physicians at the first OhioHealth HOOFit Walk of 2019, Tuesday, May 21 at 9:30 a.m.

Find more information on the event, by clicking here.