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Mental Health A Key Factor To Active and Healthy Ageing

©EPP

Mental Health Europe, an EPF member, organised on the 7th of February a roundtable event in the European Parliament to discuss the importance of a positive mental health in the context of active and healthy ageing. In a society where life expectancy is rising, ageing should be seen as an opportunity.

In a packed room, Mental Health Europe, together with MEP Deirdre Clune (EPP, Ireland) gathered experts and policy makers to debate the implications of the demographic change that is currently happening in most EU countries.

Giving the welcome speech, the Irish Minister for Mental Health and Older People, Mrs Helen Mc Entee set the tone of the event with a powerful statement on the mental health status of the elderly.  She highlighted the alarming levels of suicides amongst older persons particularly at time of retirement or when a person becomes dependent. “Older people are entitled to the same rights as everyone else and in order to make this a reality, we must ensure a whole-of-society and government approach”, she concluded.

Johan Ten Geuzendam, from DG Justice shared some insights on the European Commission’s current initiatives to support age and mental health friendly policies, including legal instruments such as the Cross-Border Healthcare Directive, and the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities.

Brenda O’Brien, speaking on behalf of the European Agency for Safety at Work (OSHA) insisted on the need to focus on healthy workplaces for all, including older employees, and called for health risk assessment, including psychosocial factors in the workplace. Mrs O’Brien also took the opportunity to share some information about the current OSHA campaign on healthy workplaces for all, to which EPF contributes actively within the framework of its activities on equity at work for patients.

The event underlined the importance of developing age-friendly policies and integrated strategies in collaboration with organisations representing older persons, mental health associations, or patients. Speakers also called for more budgetary integration between occupational health and safety and employment policies at EU and national levels, a claim that EPF supports, as proven by the recent joint-statement on a joint EU strategy on mental health.