2013 has been a year of transition and change! In September 2013, Bonnie Schroeder was selected as the new director taking over from Kim Wilson, who dedicated eight years of her career to CCSMH. In the words of one Steering Committee member: “Kim brought tremendous enthusiasm” to the role and organization.
The Eliminating Stigma: A Focus on Seniors’ Mental Health project, fundied by the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC), developed, piloted and evaluated a workshop intervention for health care providers. Its purpose was to reduce stigma experienced by older adults living with mental health problems or illnesses. The workshop included a social contact component through the use of video stories of lived experience of mental illness. Rosalyn’s story shares her experience being hospitalized with severe depression and the sense of wisdom and meaning she has found in recovery. The report and video will be made available in the fall of 2014.
Suicide prevention continues to be a strong priority area in the mental health field. The Public Health Agency of Canada held consultations related to the Federal Framework for Suicide Prevention, and the Mental Health Commission of Canada supported the development of the National Collaborative of Suicide Prevention. In late 2013, the reality of suicide prevention in later life was widespread in the media with an older couple who died by suicide, bringing attention to the higher suicide rates among older adults, particularly older men.
As a Coalition, we are only as strong as our members and partners. Here are a few of their highlights:
- Dr. Marnin Heisel was awarded a three-year Movember Grant in late 2013. He will study the effect of support groups for men of retirement age and their risk of suicide.
- Social isolation is the new priority for the National Seniors Council. The Council will assess how social isolation affects seniors and explore ways to prevent and reduce it.
- The Canadian Geriatric Society released the Hospital Discharge Guide for Older Adults and Their Families. The goal of this guide is to help patients and their families participate in planning the discharge home and to make the transition from hospital a safe one.
As a Coalition, we are at a crossroads in fulfilling our mandate to promote seniors’ mental health by connecting people, ideas and resources. We play a unique role in the sector at the intersection of mental health and aging. Building on our successes, we will be continually challenged to work collaboratively and creatively with partners to protect and promote the mental health and wellbeing of older Canadians.