Simone Powell is a Senior Policy Analyst in the Division of Aging, Seniors and Dementia at the Public Health Agency of Canada. Simone has been working in the field of public health policy and research for more than twenty-three years in both the government and non-government sectors (including, the World Health Organization, the Canadian Public Health Association, Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada). Most of these years have focused specifically on the older adult population and have covered a range of issues including mental health, dementia, caregiving, elder abuse and injury prevention. Simone has a Masters of Social Work and Master of Arts in Public Administration.
No Health without Mental Health: Canadian Initiatives for Promoting and Improving the Mental Health of Seniors
Francine Knoops is currently the Lead Analyst, Policy and Stakeholder Engagement in the Knowledge Exchange Centre of the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC). She joined MHCC in 2009 as part of the team that developed Changing Directions, Changing Lives: The Mental Health Strategy for Canada (2012). Since then she has led the development of the MHCC document Case for Investing in Mental Health in Canada (2013) and its second iteration, Strengthening the Case for Investing in Mental Health (2017) Prior, Francine was a senior manager at the Canadian Psychiatric Association for 14 years, latterly as its Associate Executive Director. She was instrumental in founding the Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health (CAMIMH) in 1998. She began her career in national mental health policy when she joined Health and Welfare Canada in 1988 as an analyst. Her early career was at the grass roots level as a health and social planner, in human rights and as a community organizer. Francine has a BA in Political Science and Economics (Carleton 1977) and has completed a range of graduate courses in public policy (Carleton and Concordia) and in Business Administration (Queens).
Kiran Rabheru is Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Ottawa and Geriatric Psychiatrist at The Ottawa Hospital, where he serves as Medical Director of the Geriatric Psychiatry and ECT Program, and the Behavioral Support Team.
Kiran obtained his MD at UWO in 1980, in London, Ontario. He was a general practitioner for 5 years, which he maintains has grounded him in “real life medicine” and became certified in Family Medicine in 1987 and a Fellow of the College of Family Physicians of Canada in 2004. He completed a residency in psychiatry (FRCP) and subspecialized in geriatric psychiatry in Canada and the United States.
Kiran has been passionate and committed to serving the elderly throughout his career. He is recognized nationally and internationally as a Founder of the subspecialty of Geriatric Psychiatry. He is the recipient of Outstanding Achievements in Geriatric Psychiatry in Canada award by the Canadian Academy of Geriatric Psychiatry (CAGP). Kiran has served as President of the CAGP and on the Board of the Canadian Psychiatric Association (CPA).
Currently, he is the Co-leader of the Canadian Coalition of Seniors Mental Health (CCSMH), on the Board of Directors of the International Longevity Centre (ILC), Canada, and the International Psychogeriatric Association (IPA).
Dr. David Conn is the Vice-President of Education and Director of the Centre for Education & Knowledge Exchange at Baycrest. He is a Professor in the Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto. He is founding Co-Chair of the Canadian Coalition for Seniors’ Mental Health and Past President of the Canadian Academy of Geriatric Psychiatry. He joined the Department of Psychiatry at Baycrest in 1983 and served as Department Chief from 1992 to 2010. His academic interests include nursing home psychiatry, telepsychiatry, guideline development and knowledge translation.
He is the author or co-author of more than 100 publications and is the co-editor of three textbooks including “Practical Psychiatry in the Long-Term Care Home: A Handbook for Staff”. He served as a Board member of the International Psychogeriatric Association from 2009-2017. He received the 2005 Canadian Academy of Geriatric Psychiatry Award for Outstanding Contributions to Geriatric Psychiatry in Canada and a Distinguished Service Award (Congress Host Country) from the International Psychogeriatric Association in 2009. In 2010 he was co-recipient of the CIHR Institute of Aging Betty Havens Award for Knowledge Translation in Aging.
Sareda Quah-Vo is a Knowledge Broker in the Knowledge Exchange Centre of the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC). Before joining the MHCC in 2016, Sareda was a Community Health Promoter and Project Manager at Somerset West Community Health Centre (SWCHC), Ottawa. While at SWCHC, she gained experience in successfully establishing and managing partnerships with key community stakeholders in order improve the health status of the community and to advocate on behalf of vulnerable populations. Prior, Sareda was researcher at Nielsen Consumer Insights, a market research and public opinion firm, where her focus was on primary research projects related to the health-care sector. Sareda holds a Master of Public Health (University of Alberta, 2017) specializing in Health Promotion.
Mental health encompasses both mental wellness and mental illness as part of a dynamic continuum for all ages. Many older adults maintain good mental health as they age. However, the unique physical, psychological and social changes associated with aging may individually or together challenge the mental wellness of seniors leading to mental health problems or diagnosis of a mental illness.
Compromised mental health at any point in the continuum is not a natural outcome of the physical aging process. However, in 2016 more than 1.8 million older Canadians were living with either a mental health problem or a mental illness. Those particularly at risk include: men over the age of 80 where we see among the highest rates of suicide in Canada; caregivers of seniors (particularly those with dementia); and older adults living in long term care facilities. Mental illnesses experienced by an older adult population generally include mood and anxiety disorders, substance use disorders or cognitive and mental disorders due to a medical condition. Misconceptions of aging and mental health lead to under-detection of mental health problems and misdiagnoses of mental illness, despite existing interventions to support healthy aging.
This symposium will highlight that a range of approaches across sectors and disciplines are needed to target both risk and protective factors that support mental health among older adults. These efforts respond to Canada’s first mental health strategy: Changing Directions, Changing Lives: The Mental Health Strategy for Canada (2012) which identified a number of recommendations for promoting and improving seniors’ mental health. Representatives from key Canadian organizations will share initiatives that address mental health problems and mental illness in later life. These will include interventions broadly covering the mental health spectrum, such as supporting older adults’ resilience and positive thinking; increasing community understanding and support; and increasing the capacity of primary care physicians to promote mentally healthy behaviours. The discussion will also include interventions targeted at specific mental illness diagnoses, such as enhancing the clinical skills of health providers to address substance use disorders; strengthening the health system to better respond to the mental health needs of seniors and their caregivers; and facilitating the uptake of comprehensive service system guidelines.
The symposium will ask participants to reflect on the implications of highlighted initiatives for their practice or policy area.
The Fountain of Health (FoH) for Optimal Aging is one of the world’s first evidence-based, non-profit initiatives to promote healthy aging and improve health outcomes for all people, globally. It is truly a unique educational initiative created to advance knowledge, skills, and attitudes about brain health and resilience amongst health care providers, patients and the public. The FoH is exceptional in employing scientific, evidence-based, systematic principles of cognitive behavior therapy (CBT). The FoH condenses current science of brain health and resilience into 5 key domains: 1. Positive Thinking 2. Social Activity 3. Physical Activity 4. Mental Health 5. Lifelong Learning. The FoH has the potential to be disruptive and transformative. Providing vital tools to clinicians would enable delivery of FoH’s innovative model of preventative health care, promote effective and measurable changes in health behavior, and optimize people’s quality of life, globally. Such tools are urgently required and must be freely accessible, simple and practical. These much-needed clinical tools to inspire positive attitudes and behaviors toward healthy aging and behaviors need to be disseminated to clinics, offices and practice settings. These tools including supporting FoH’s utility in practicing positive psychiatry will be described.
Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) initiatives on aging and mental health are aimed at promoting mental health and improving service system capacity to meet the increasing and complex mental health needs in an aging population. These needs can arise from growing older with a recurring or persistent mental illness, facing a mental health problem or illness for the first time as one ages, having behavioural and psychological symptoms associated with dementia, dealing with mental health problems and illness alongside chronic physical conditions, and/or facing challenges in maintaining one’s mental wellbeing. Participants will hear about MHCC’s current work on three projects: 1) Knowledge mobilization for the uptake of the landmark Canadian Guidelines for Comprehensive Mental Health Services for Older Adults in Canada, which offer an integrated services model and blueprint for action across the continuum. 2) Mental Health First Aid for Seniors, an innovative approach to improving mental health literacy among older adults, informal caregivers, and frontline staff in care settings so they can recognize problems, provide initial support, and find appropriate help. 3) Development of policy guidance for those delivering home care services on how their role in promoting and supporting the mental health of an aging population.
The Canadian Coalition for Seniors’ Mental Health (CCSMH) is a coalition of individuals and organizations working to ensure that seniors’ mental health is recognized as a key health and wellness issue in Canada. This presentation will introduce the CCSMH and our approach to joining diverse voices to affect change in support of older adults in Canada. We will present our seminal documents – Clinical Guidelines on depression, suicide prevention, delirium and mental health in long term care – along with complementary tools prepared in recent years to facilitate the translation of the Guidelines from concept to action.
The main focus of this presentation will be on the current development of four evidence-based clinical guidelines on the prevention, screening, assessment and treatment of alcohol, cannabis, benzodiazepine and opioid use disorders among older adults.
Problematic substance use occurs frequently among seniors; often unintentionally through over-prescription of substances, polypharmacy, and substance misuse. Misuse, dependency and addiction of substances among seniors are often associated with other mental illnesses including depression and anxiety, and can be affected by loneliness, bereavement and chronic illness and/or disability.
This discussion will outline areas of controversy that have arisen during the drafting of these guidelines and share the resulting expert recommendations.