• Access to primary care physicians
• Priority of physical health programs and policy over mental health
Many of these problems are systemic in nature and stem from lack of funding for community programs for mental health, lack of inclusion of mental health within training for health care practitioners and the lack of funding for mental health professional services over physical healthcare programs.
A further issue that must be raised is that of caregivers. Providing tax credits and financial support for caregivers is simply not enough. The government must ensure that those caring for our seniors with mental health issues be provided with the necessary emotional support, education and respite. If our caregivers are not cared for, they become an increased risk for mental health issues themselves. Ensuring that seniors’ mental health is recognized as a key issue There are many additional issues for discussion that haven’t been raised such as housing, chronic illness, addictions, emergency preparedness, medication issues etc. Seniors’ mental health is an enormous topic that encompasses all of the determinants of health, all health disciplines, many professions outside of the health spectrum and across a variety of continuums. Whether one lives in a rural or urban setting, the community or a long term care facility, whether a senior is 65 or 99, they may be affected by a mental health issue.
Recommendations for the Special Senate Committee 1. The CCSMH strongly supports a recommendation for a national aging strategy with the recognition of seniors’ mental health as a critical matter and as a priority public policy planning and service delivery issue
2. Acknowledge that mental illness be considered equally as important as physical illness 3. Recognize that seniors must be provided with access to professionals, services and resources that ensure prevention, treatment, and management of mental illness
4. A national strategy to combat stigma and discrimination
5. Dedicated funding to the CCSMH to facilitate strategic national initiatives that enhance and promote seniors’ mental health care, resources and collaboration
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2 Cooper B. Psychiatric disorders among elderly patients admitted to general hospital wards. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine 1987;80:13-6
3 Mood disorders of Canada: Available http://www.mooddisorderscanada.ca/quickfacts/facts_from_canada.htm
4 Lindesay, J, Rockwood K, Rolfson D. The epidemiology of delirium. In: Lindesay J, Rockwood K. MacDonald A, eds. Delirium in Old Age. Oxford: Oxford University Press; 2002:27-50
5 Statistics Canada 2005. Canadian statistics: suicides, and suicide rate, by sex, by age group. Available: http://www40.statcan.ca/101/cst01/health01.htm .