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Navigating the Landscape of Mental Health Advocacy & Aging: Give an Hour at On Aging 2024

By April 23, 2024Blog

PICTURE IT: Continental Foyer – East Lounge at the Hilton Union Square – humming with anticipation, signaling the dawn of the On Aging 2024 Conference. Hosted by the esteemed American Society of Aging, this annual gathering brought together a consortium of leading minds and organizations dedicated to exploring the intersections of aging, mental health, and society’s evolving landscape when it comes to health equity. 

March 24, 2024, marked the inaugural step of an organizational journey for the Give an Hour team, and I mean that in a lot of aspects. This was one of our largest events we were attending since the COVID crisis. As we embarked on our participation in this esteemed event as an Exhibitor and Sponsor, with a commitment to advancing dialogues on aging and mental wellness, we eagerly anticipated both contributing to and learning from the discussions ahead with other thought leaders and changemakers.  

Amidst the organized chaos of registration, attendees were drawn to the bookstore event at Cityscape, offering a curated selection of literature and resources delving into the nuanced facets of aging and mental well-being. From poignant memoirs to groundbreaking research, the bookstore served as a microcosm of the diverse insights and wisdom awaiting exploration within the conference space.  

Simultaneously, behind closed doors, an exclusive assembly unfolded—the Exhibitor and Sponsor Set-Up and Reception—a nexus where luminaries from the realms of technology and aging came together, mental health professionals from all over the nation, and more. Here, a shared commitment to innovation and collaboration, we were literally building the foundation of our spaces – which would eventually propel discussions, laying the groundwork for transformative partnerships poised to shape the future landscape of aging care. 

As we eagerly anticipated the days ahead, one truth resonated clear: amidst the technological advancements and academic discourse, fostering genuine human connections remained paramount. Thus, the day culminated in an intimate gathering at Cityscape lounge, where participants convened to nurture relationships and lay the groundwork for collaborative endeavors that would define the conference’s legacy and allow Give an Hour – no leave no stone unturned.  

During our time at the On Aging Conference, Give an Hour had the distinct privilege of delivering two powerful presentations that shed light on the importance of mental health advocacy for aging populations. Led by Julie Wells, Director of Programs and Dr. Trina Clayeux, CEO of Give an Hour, these sessions delved deep into the heart of our mission, offering invaluable insights and actionable strategies to empower individuals and communities alike. 

Julie Well’s 30-Minute Session About Give an Hour: 

In her impactful 30-minute session, Julie captivated audiences with her advocacy for mental health resilience and community empowerment. With a clear and compelling message, Julie articulated Give an Hour’s mission, to develop resilient individuals and communities through scalable, individualized mental health programs. She emphasized the importance of promoting self-awareness, self-care, and self-advocacy, envisioning a society where every individual is equipped to take charge of their mental health journey. 

Julie’s presentation showcased Give an Hour’s diverse range of programs and initiatives aimed at addressing mental health challenges across various populations, such as our Five Signs of Emotional Suffering. From peer support groups to mental health professional networks, training and education initiatives to advocacy and awareness campaigns, Give an Hour’s impact was evident in every facet of its work. Julie highlighted key success stories and collaborations, underscoring the organization’s commitment to innovation, adaptability, and diversity, equity, and inclusion. 

With a compelling call to action, Julie invited attendees to volunteer, donate, or support Give an Hour through partnerships and sponsorships. Her session left a lasting impression on all who attended, inspiring individuals to join the movement towards mental health equity and resilience. 

Dr. Trina Clayeux’s 60-Minute Session with Beyond Generations Panel & Collaboration with Director of FINRA, Robert Mascio: 

CEO, Dr. Trina Clayeux’s 60-minute session at the Beyond Generations Summit panel was a tour de force of wisdom, compassion, and expertise. As the CEO of Give an Hour, Trina brought a wealth of knowledge and insight to the discussion, illuminating the intersection of trauma, resilience, and mental health in aging populations and the nuanced groups within. 

Trina’s presentation began with a thought-provoking exploration of the importance of trauma-informed care and cultural humility in addressing mental health challenges in older adults. Drawing on her extensive experience and trauma informed date – Trina highlighted the benefits of combining trauma-informed care with cultural humility, emphasizing the need for tailored interventions that address the unique needs of diverse older adults. 

Throughout her session, Trina underscored the complex relationship between aging, trauma, resilience, and mental health, offering practical strategies for promoting post-traumatic growth and building equitable mental health services. Her emphasis on listen/lean in/learn-oriented approaches resonated deeply with attendees, providing a roadmap for empowering resilience and fostering hope in older adults. 

As Trina concluded her presentation with a heartfelt call to action, she reminded attendees of the power of human connection in addressing the mental health crisis facing aging populations. Her words served as a poignant reminder of Give an Hour’s unwavering commitment to ensuring that every individual has access to the support and resources they need to thrive. 

Additionally – Dr. Trina had a one-hour session with Robert Mascio, a Director at FINRA, Trina delved into the critical topic of financial fraud and its impact on aging populations. Through an engaging discussion, Trina connected the dots between financial fraud instances like romance scams and pig butchering and the need for comprehensive support for victims. 

Drawing on insights from Give an Hour’s Peer Support for Financial Fraud Victims program and the collaborative Journey map created with FINRA, Trina highlighted the importance of tailored interventions and trauma-informed care in addressing the unique needs of financial fraud victims. By emphasizing the intersection of trauma, resilience, and mental health in the context of aging, Trina underscored the significance of providing compassionate support and resources to those affected by financial exploitation. 

Trina’s session served as a powerful reminder of Give an Hour’s commitment to empowering resilience and fostering hope in vulnerable populations. Through collaborative efforts with organizations like FINRA, Give an Hour continues to work towards creating a supportive and inclusive environment where individuals of all ages can access the care and support they need to thrive. 

As the pulse of the On Aging Conference moved through the exhibition halls, Give an Hour seized the opportunity to host a series of presentations within its exhibitor space. These sessions, curated to foster dialogue and insight into the complexities of mental health advocacy for aging populations, focused on a diverse array of speakers and topics, each contributing a unique perspective to the overarching theme of emotional wellness and resilience. 

Dr. Daniella Karidi: 

Dr. Daniella Karidi, founder of ADHDtime, whose groundbreaking research on comorbidity in aging shed light on the intersection of ADHD and mental health disorders in older adults. With a wealth of experience in neurodiversity advocacy, Dr. Karidi offered invaluable insights into the unique challenges faced by aging populations with ADHD, emphasizing the importance of accessible mental health support. Her session empowered attendees to identify and address key challenges in mental health care for aging populations, sparking meaningful conversations, and inspiring action. 

Dr. Regina Koepp: 

The conversations continued with Dr. Regina Koepp, a pioneering voice in mental health and aging, whose dedication to ensuring mental health and belonging at every age resonated deeply with Give an Hour’s mission. Through her thought-provoking session, Dr. Koepp illuminated the importance of equity, inclusion, and belonging in mental health care for older adults, challenging ageist stereotypes and advocating for accessible and inclusive support systems. Her session fostered a transformative discussion on the role of mental health advocacy in promoting holistic well-being across the lifespan. 

Dr. David Camacho: 

Assistant Professor Dr. David Camacho took center stage, offering a compelling exploration of diversity and inclusion in aging research and care. With a focus on addressing prevalent conditions associated with aging among minoritized older adults, Dr. Camacho’s session underscored the urgent need for equitable mental health support for all communities. His research-informed insights provided attendees with tangible strategies to enhance the prevention and management of chronic pain, loneliness, and cognitive impairment, highlighting the importance of culturally responsive care. 

Julia Weinman: 

The exhibition space buzzed with anticipation as Julia Weinman, a dedicated PhD candidate in Clinical Psychology, took the podium to navigate the complexities of trauma and resilience in aging. With a deep understanding of the long-term effects of trauma on older adults, Julia offered invaluable insights into tailored interventions aimed at mitigating adverse effects and promoting resilience. Her research underscored the urgent need for specialized support systems that address the unique vulnerabilities of aging populations, aligning seamlessly with Give an Hour’s commitment to fostering mental health equity. 

Anna Hall: 

The sessions closed with an invigorating address by Anna Hall, whose expertise in senior living management illuminated the profound impact of purpose on emotional wellness, particularly within aging communities. With warmth and conviction, Anna delved into the transformative power of purpose-driven living, drawing parallels between her work at The Purpose Equation and Give an Hour’s commitment to equitable mental health services. Her session underscored the intrinsic link between purpose and resilience, laying the foundation for a day of insightful discourse. 

Throughout the days, Give an Hour’s exhibitor space served as a dynamic hub of knowledge exchange and collaboration, bringing together thought leaders, practitioners, and advocates to chart a course towards equitable mental health support for aging populations. As attendees departed, it became clear that the journey towards emotional wellness and resilience is one that requires collective action and unwavering commitment. 

As the On Aging Conference unfolded, it became increasingly evident that amidst the discussions on mental health and well-being, a prevailing theme emerged—the human connection crisis. This crisis, as depicted in the Stand Together video, underscored the profound importance of fostering meaningful connections in an increasingly fragmented world. However, amidst this realization, the Give an Hour team found itself uniquely positioned to address this crisis head-on, leveraging the power of community and collaboration to forge vital connections with individuals and organizations alike. 

Among the many connections forged during the conference, one notable encounter was with Ann Tuszynski, Director of Clinical Services at the Curry Senior Center. Through engaging conversations, Give an Hour identified synergies in their respective missions, recognizing the importance of holistic mental health support for aging populations. Similarly, interactions with Annamarie Hastings of EyeCare America and Rebecca Sky of the New Hampshire State Commission on Aging highlighted the need for accessible mental health resources and advocacy efforts tailored to the unique needs of older adults. 

Additionally, conversations with Christopher Leech of Intuition Robotics and Jason Stubbers of Compassion & Choices shed light on innovative approaches to addressing the human connection crisis. By integrating technology and compassionate care, these organizations exemplified the potential for transformative change in the realm of mental health support for aging populations. 

However, it’s essential to acknowledge that amidst the conference halls, countless other connections were made—each contributing to the rich tapestry of collaboration and camaraderie. From discussions with Katherine Bridges of AARP to engagements with Megan Conway of Hanover Township, every interaction served to reaffirm Give an Hour’s commitment to fostering human connections and empowering individuals to take charge of their mental health journey. 

In essence, the On Aging Conference served as a microcosm of the broader societal imperative to address the human connection crisis – and close the access gaps to mental health in general—Give an Hour’s mission and values. By embracing the spirit of collaboration and collective impact, Give an Hour stands poised to navigate these complexities transforming challenges into opportunities for growth and resilience. 

As the conference ended, the Give an Hour team departed with a renewed sense of purpose and determination, armed with insights and connections that will propel their efforts forward in the ongoing quest to foster mental health equity and well-being for all. For in the face of adversity, it is through human connection that we find strength, resilience, and the power to effect meaningful change. 

Ryan Young

Marketing & Social Media Manager