Growing up, and well into my adulthood, there were two people I would turn to whenever I needed guidance or advice… my grandparents.
Their words of wisdom were invaluable as I was trying to make major decisions in my life.
Oh, how I wish they were still around…
I know I wouldn’t be where I am today without the love and support of my grandparents.
Today, grandparents, and grandmas especially, are becoming invaluable (as they should be).
And get this: they’re literally saving tens of thousands of suffering from depression.
It’s clear, we need you grandmas more than ever. Depression has become a major mental health issue around the world.
According to the WHO, 300 million people around the world suffer from depression.
It’s the world’s leading cause of disability. And it contributes to 800,000 suicides per year.
Here in the U.S., 16.2 million adults have experienced a major depression in the past year. That’s nearly 7% of all adults in the country.
And, it’s estimated that 15% of American adults will experience depression at some point in their lives.
The rising incidence of depression worldwide led to the development of a unique mental health program. And I hope it takes root here at home…
It’s called the “Friendship Bench.” And since it was started in 2006 in Zimbabwe, it has helped over 30,000 people!
The program partners individuals diagnosed with depression with a grandma.
These grandmas are specially trained to go out of their way to look after their charge.
The grandmothers meet with their “patients” regularly, getting to know them, talking to them about what’s going on in their lives, and, pulling from their own experiences. To guide them to a better place.
And it’s been working.
The results of a 2016 clinical trial on the program were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
In the study, researchers split 600 people with symptoms of depression into two groups. One received conventional treatment for depression, while the other group received “Grandma therapy.”
After six months, the results showed that the grandma group had significantly lower symptoms of depression compared to conventional treatment.
The success of the program has led to expansion to other countries, including the U.S.
While this program focuses on depression, there are countless other ways older folks can help others and really make a difference in their lives.
The way I see it, this helps everyone. Grandmas (and grandpas) can put their wisdom to work, and help their community. And they’re helping themselves by staying active, engaged and needed.
There’s a great organization called Senior Corps that connects adults 55 and older with people and organizations in need of volunteers.
Do you have something to give back, and the time to do it. Learn more about this organization here.
Enjoy the rest of your weekend.
Editor, Patriot Health Alliance