On 8 February 2017,  EBC attended the Mental Health & Active Ageing: Ensuring opportunities and participation in society at all ages conference, organized by Mental Health Europe together with MEP Deirdre Clune (Ireland, EPP).  Held in the European Parliament, Brussels,  the meeting gathered more than 50 people to discuss the importance of active ageing and why it matters to mental health. Speakers and participants of the meeting involved experts and policy makers including the Irish Minister for Mental Health and Older People Helen Mc Entee, Nigel Henderson, President of Mental Health Europe, Johan Ten Geuzendam, European Commissioner and Professor Alan Walker, Mopact Project Coordinator. The overall message coming out from the event was positive and full of hope: demographics are changing, life expectancy rises, but ageing should not be seen as a burden for society but rather, as an opportunity.

The presentations and following discussions addressed the European dimension of active ageing and why it matters to mental health, the direct link between mental health and active ageing as well as what some of the best practices are in promoting active ageing and positive mental health.  Also addressed were the lifespan approach to mental health and existing policy frameworks in Europe.

Among the many recommendations expressed by speakers and participants, one that was repeated was the  need for training of geriatricians, general practitioners as well service providers to mental health issues. More information about possible side effects of medication for older people that have implications on mental health should also be provided. Experts also emphasized the importance of developing age-friendly policies and integrated strategies in collaboration with organisations representing older persons and mental health associations, calling for more joint thinking and budgetary integration between occupational health and safety, employment and health policies at national and European level.

For more information on the outcomes of the meeting, click here.