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April 2011
"Promotion of Mental Health and Well being in Older People – making it happen": a European Union Thematic Conference

This conference was co-organized in Madrid on 28-29 June 2010 by the European Commission’s Directorate for Health and Consumers and the Ministry of Health and Social Affaires of Spain together with the support of the Presidency of Spain of the European Union.  

The organizers invited 182 representatives from 29 European countries, along with representatives from the European Commission and the European Parliament, including members of health and social authorities and governmental and non-governmental organizations of professionals and consumers. The conference offered several opportunities to contribute to the debate on how to promote mental health in older age through plenary sessions (Promoting mental health and providing good care for older people; Policies on mental health and older people; Conclusions from the conference and actions to be taken), parallel sessions (Mental health promotion in old age: Healthy ageing and well being; Older people in vulnerable situations; Prevention of mental disorders; Care and treatment systems; informal carers), and discussions.

The conference stressed that it is everyone’s duty to give greater priority to promoting mental health and well being and to tackle mental health problems. Several horizontal themes were identified which need to be considered to develop actions to improve the mental health and the well being of older people.

The following five priority fields and key actions were debated and identified:

Mental health promotion in old age: healthy ageing and well being
Prevention of mental disorders and promotion of autonomy
Older people in vulnerable situations
Health systems for care and treatment
Supporting the informal carers

The European Commission and the Member States, together with regional and local authorities, and in partnership with professionals, patients and informal carers, NGOs and older people themselves, through health and other relevant sectors, were invited to develop several initiatives to assure the best possible mental health and well being for older persons in Europe.

Carlos Augusto de Mendonça Lima
Secretary, WPA Section on Old Age Psychiatry

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