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World Mental Health Day 2013

 CBM/Nwefoh Mrs Udenwa (left) is a much-loved mother and grandmother in Nigeria who, with professional care and emotional support, is recovering from mental illness in the community

CBM/Nwefoh
Mrs Udenwa (left) is a much-loved mother and grandmother in Nigeria who, with professional care and emotional support, is recovering from mental illness in the community

In 2013 World Mental Health Day (10 October) highlights mental health care in older adults. CBM recognises this day by focusing on our work in Nigeria.

Theme 2013 – ‘Mental Health and Older Adults’

Today’s world is experiencing a phenomenal increase in life expectancy. As the ageing of population evident in the high income countries is becoming a reality in less developed countries; the health problems of the elderly, particularly its psychological dimensions in the low income settings become crucial.
Older people may have any mental health problems common in adulthood in general, butspecific concerns associated more with the elderly population include dementia, delirium, psychosis and depression. See CBM’s page on psychosocial disabilities for more details.
The reason why World Mental Health Day 2013 is focusing on this group is not only that these problems are often unrecognised and go untreated, but that people do not tend to be able to receive the particular types of support that they need to respond to these challenges. CBM is working with partners to improve access to care for this neglected and vulnerable group, especially in countries where families may not be able to access support from health and social services.
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Developing country health services are generally ill-equipped to meet the needs of older persons. Health care, even at the primary care level, is clinic-based – the older person must attend the clinic, often involving a long journey and waiting time in the clinic, to receive care.
Even if they can get to the clinic, the assessment and treatment that they receive tends to be orientated towards short-term (acute) rather than chronic conditions.
The perception is that the former may be treatable, the latter intractable and not within the realm of responsibility of health services. Many older adults will also have long-term medical complications which means that particular care is needed in prescribing medication. They often also require careful long-term follow-up which may not be easy to access as it is is often entirely dependent upon means to pay. Apart from economic constraints, this is particularly challenging for those living in rural areas as health care resources are much more available in urban areas.

CBM works with local partners to support mental health work in the poorest countries in the world including Nigeria.
In Nigeria, CBM supports three large mental health programmes through AusAID – mental health Leadership and Advocacy Programme (mhLAP), Mental Health Awareness Programme (MHAP) and Benue state Comprehensive Community Mental Health Programme (CCMHP) in addition to seven community based rehabilitation programmes in the country. All aim at improving the quality lives of persons with psychosocial disability in Nigeria.

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