The Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) has released guidelines for comprehensive mental health services for older adults in Canada. The guidelines offer a model for a comprehensive seniors’ mental health system in Canada, as well as service benchmarks that provide concrete reference points for planning for policy makers, planners, and advocacy groups working in the issue area. The guidelines are not intended to provide clinical guidance.
Ten key recommendations are made including: the need to understand diversity among older adults; local context and resources and the need to modify existing practices when planning for a comprehensive integrated mental health system; the use of the Seniors Mental Health Policy Lens to assess policies, programs and services; the need to embed mental health promotion to all policies, programs and services for older adults; creation of benchmarks; and others.
At both the individual and system levels, values and principles are identified to guide the development of policies, programs and services. At the individual level, these principles and values include respect and dignity; self-determination, independence and choice; participation, relationship and social inclusion; fairness and equity; and security. At the system level, the principles and values are accessibility; person and relationship-centred; recovery-focused; support for family/caregivers; education and support for service providers; diversity and cultural safety; comprehensiveness; integrated, flexible and seamless; mental health promotion; and evidence informed.
The development of this work was overseen by members of the MHCC Seniors Advisory Committee, Science Advisory Committee and MHCC staff and included a literature review and stakeholder consultation between June 2009 and January 2011.
For more information, see “Guidelines for comprehensive mental health services for older adults in Canada,” Mental Health Commission of Canada, October 2011, at www.mentalhealthcommission.ca.