The theme of this year’s World Mental Health Day is ‘Mental Health and Older Adults’. The world’s population is ageing rapidly. Between 2000 and 2050, the proportion of the population aged 60 and over is expected to double, from about 11% to 22%, or to increase from 605 million to 2 billion older people worldwide.
More than one in five adults aged 60 and over experiences mental or neurological disorders, such as dementia and depression. Mental health problems are under-identified by health care professionals and older people themselves, and the stigma surrounding mental illness makes people reluctant to seek help. Older adults are also vulnerable to physical neglect and maltreatment within the health and social care context as well as in the wider community, often leading to the development of mental health problems.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, points out in his message on World Mental Health Day that mental disorders affect hundreds of millions of people worldwide, accounting for 13%
of the burden of all illnesses. “The gap between the need for mental health services and their availability is large all over the world, and where services are available, often they are not of high quality,” the Secretary-General says.
At the World Health Assembly in May this year, Member States adopted a Comprehensive Mental Health Action Plan 2013–2020. In doing so, they committed to taking concerted and coordinated action to address the mental health burden—one which falls primarily on those affected and their families, not to mention the substantial social and economic costs borne by communities.
“The endorsement of the Comprehensive Mental Health Action Plan comes at an opportune moment. I call upon all countries, UN agencies and other international, regional and national partners to work closely together to implement the Action Plan
to promote better mental health for all,” Mr. Ban says in his statement.
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