Ontario Investing in New Program to Support Seniors' Mental Health

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Ontario Investing in New Program to Support Seniors' Mental Health

TORONTO - Seniors want to remain active and live independently in age-friendly communities that are open to their full participation. Yet many seniors face challenges that support their mental health and well-being. With an estimated seventeen to thirty per cent of older adults suffering from mental health disorder, Ontario's government is protecting what matters most by supporting the development of a senior mental health and addictions educational program.

Today, Raymond Cho, Minister for Seniors and Accessibility, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, and Michael Tibollo, Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, announced a $250,000 investment to develop and deliver this new resource to help respond to the rising rates of mental health and addiction issues amongst seniors.

"This is another example of how our government is putting seniors first by providing essential supports and services to help improve their well-being," said Minister Cho. "This is what a government for the people does - we protect what matters most to help seniors live healthy, active, safe and socially connected lives."

This educational program is being designed with seniors in mind after consulting with CAMH and other clinical subject matter experts, as well as community mental health and addictions service providers.  

Components of the program will include resource materials and a workshop series, which will educate seniors on common risk factors and prevention strategies, signs and symptoms of mental health and addiction issues, and how to access appropriate supports. It will be delivered across the province in community settings such as Seniors Active Living Centres by in-person facilitators with expertise in mental health and addictions in early 2020.

"Our government is investing in frontline services by funding new mental health programs and services for seniors across the province," said Minister Elliott. "This funding will fill critical gaps as we develop and implement a comprehensive and connected mental health strategy that better supports the complex needs of seniors."

"I look forward to working closely with Minister Elliott and Minister Cho to ensure that we provide effective mental health programs and services for our seniors," said Minister Tibollo. "Too many of Ontario's seniors have waited too long for the mental health services they require. By investing in frontline programs and services, we will continue moving forward to create a mental health system in Ontario that fully supports our seniors."

This funding is part of the additional $174 million the government is providing this year to address critical gaps in services across Ontario and support patients and families living with mental health and addictions challenges.

As Ontarians aged 65 and older are the province's fastest growing demographic, it is important to educate seniors to help prevent and address mental health issues such as depression and anxiety, as well as alcohol addiction and opioid use disorder.

Quick Facts

  • Up to thirty per cent of older adults aged 65 and up have a mental health disorder.
  • The program’s workshop series will educate seniors on common risk factors and prevention strategies, signs and symptoms of mental health and addiction issues, and how to access appropriate supports.
  • Canadian studies have found that rates of depression in long-term care facilities can be as high as forty per cent, and the rate of depression in older adults within hospitals range from twelve to forty-five per cent.
  • According to The Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction, more than thirteen per cent of Canadians age 55 and older report a pattern of problematic binge drinking.
  • Investments in mental health and addictions services is part of Ontario’s plan to modernize our public health care system, which relentlessly focuses on patient experience and better-connected care, to reduce wait times and end hallway health care.
  • Ontario is committed to invest $3.8 billion over the next ten years to develop and implement a comprehensive and connected mental health and addictions strategy.