Saturday, September 4, 2010

Mental Health Issues & the Silver Tsunami

As our aging population balloons, we will be facing more mental health issues in those aging and frail at home, in long-term care, and in retirement homes. Those with mental health issues can be confused with dementia. It is a wise caregiver, whether spouse or adult children, to determine causes of behavioural issues. Many hide their dementia, and can be deemed quirky rather than physically or mentally ill; a diagnosis is key.

Ontario’s mental-health system needs to be fixed now

Last Thursday, a committee of the Ontario Legislature released a hard-hitting report on the need to fundamentally transform the province’s mental-health and addictions system.

“Out of Control”: Violence against Personal Support Workers in ...

Long-term care workers link violence with working conditions. .... Violence in long-term care is not just a workers' issue. It is a women's issue. says that long-term care facilities can be dangerous places where residents attack residents, residents attack staff, and staff abuse residents.

Between 2003 and 2006, the number of violent incidents among residents reported in the province more than tripled. (446 ⏎  1,416 cases - Ontario government documents)

More than 150,000 Canadian seniors were living in residential care facilities across the country in 2004/05, according to figures released by Statistics Canada in the spring of 2007. One out of every 30 people aged 65 or older. One in 5 of those over age 85.

Fast Facts: Mental Health/Mental Illness (CMHA)

Who's affected?
* Mental illness indirectly affects all Canadians at some time through a family member, friend or colleague.
* 20% of Canadians will personally experience a mental illness in their lifetime.
* Mental illness affects people of all ages, educational & income levels, & cultures.
* ~8% of adults will experience major depression at some time in their lives.
* ~1% of Canadians will experience bipolar disorder.

How common is it? 

* Schizophrenia affects 1% of the Canadian population.
* Anxiety disorders affect 5% of the household population.
* Suicide accounts for 24% of all deaths among 15-24 year olds & 16% among 25-44 year olds.
* Suicide is one of the leading causes of death in both men & women from adolescence to middle age.
* The mortality rate due to suicide among men is 4x the rate among women. 

What causes it?

 * A complex interplay of genetic, biological, personality & environmental factors causes mental illnesses.
* Almost one half (49%) of those who feel they have suffered from depression or anxiety have never gone to see a doctor about this problem.
* Stigma or discrimination attached to mental illnesses presents a serious barrier, not only to diagnosis & treatment but also to acceptance in the community.
* Mental illnesses can be treated effectively.

What is the economic cost? 

* The economic cost of mental illnesses in Canada for the health care system was estimated to be at least $7.9 B in 1998 - $4.7 B in care, & $3.2B in disability & early death.
* An additional $6.3B was spent on uninsured mental health services & time off work for depression & distress that was not treated by the health care system.
* In 1999, 3.8% of all admissions in general hospitals (1.5M hospital days) were due to anxiety disorders, bipolar disorders, schizophrenia, major depression, personality disorders, eating disorders, & suicidal behaviour.

Sources: The Report on Mental Illness in Canada, October 2002.
 EBIC 1998 (Health Canada 2002), Stephens et al., 2001

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