Given the recent and tragic deaths of Anthony Bourdain , 61, and Kate Spade, 55, we reached out to Donna Possenti, VP of Clinical and Behavioral Operation for Jewish Family Service of Buffalo and Erie County, a founding member of the Erie County Anti-Stigma Coalition, to find out more about how this issue may be affecting our community.

1. Has Jewish Family Service of Buffalo and Erie County seen a rise in the number of middle age men and women who are seeking help mental health issues?

We have not seen a rise in this demographics in the last few years, though this has always been a strong part of our population.

2. Does this group have different needs?

There are different needs for every stage of life. This particular age group tends to be people who may be in transition, have ailing parents who have greater needs, grown children who are more independent, are experiencing their own physical health needs, are dealing with retirement or other major life changes. As people age, there are more grief and loss issues as well.

3. What are the mental and behavioral health concerns facing middle age men and women?

When middle age men and women are seeking services for mental health for the first time, their concerns tend to be focused on issues related to life transitions. This is a time that they are typically less needed by their children, retirement is on the horizon or they may be reflective on not having accomplished what they thought they would have by this stage in life. There is also financial stress associated with significant changes in their lives that they now facing or will be in the near future. In addition, they may be encountering health challenges and facing the reality that they are physically slowing down.

4. Do these issues differ between men and women?

Woman typically focus more on family issues while men appear to focus externally.

5. What are the reasons this segment does not seek help?

Unfortunately, the reasons that this segment does not see help are the same as other segments, typically, stigma. There is generally a feeling they ‘should’ be able to deal with their own issues or a belief that these feelings are a normal part of life and the aging process.

6. Please share any special programs that your agency offers Jewish Family Service offers individual outpatient mental health therapy to deal with all mental health challenges.

All of our therapists are licensed by New York State. We also offer complementary services focusing on career and vocational needs and we offer care coordination through our Health Home.