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IPA and WPA-SOAP Joint Statement on Rights of Older Persons with Mental Health Conditions

International Psychogeriatric Association (IPA) and the World Psychiatric Association-Section of Old Age Psychiatry (WPA-SOAP) Joint Statement on the Rights of Older Persons with Mental Health Conditions and Psychosocial disabilities

As of 29 March 2021, IPA leaders in close collaboration with the WPA-SOAP issued the following joint statement:

Globally, mental health systems have been in crisis for decades, prompting calls for a “revolution” in mental healthi. Today, there are 703 million people aged 65 or older, a number that is projected to reach 1.5 billion by 2050 ii. Of these, approximately 20% will have mental health conditions such as dementia, depression, anxiety and substance use, often complicated by physical and psychosocial comorbidities culminating in disability iii.

The World Health Organization (WHO) global report on ageism published in March 2021 states that one in two people are ageist against older peopleiv. The most comprehensive global review of the health consequences of ageism is a meta-analysis published in 2020, with over 7 million participantsv , demonstrating poor health outcomes in 95.5% of studies, with a strong association between mental health conditions and ageism. Individuals with internalized negative representations of old age had a higher prevalence of psychiatric conditions of which depression was the most frequent in 6.33 million cases globally.

The first key study of the economic impact of ageism published in 2020 vi considered the impact of discrimination aimed at older persons, negative age stereotypes, and negative self-perceptions of aging on the health of persons aged 60 years or older as predictors of ageism in the United States. It estimated that over a one year period, the financial impact of ageism on health care was $63 billion. Furthermore, it predicted that a reduction in ageism is likely to result in health benefits for older persons and also be cost-effective, especially for less-developed countries, where a large increase in the numbers of older persons is anticipated in the future.

The International Psychogeriatric Association (IPA) and the World Psychiatric Association-Section of Old Age Psychiatry (WPA-SOAP) join the WHO call to action to reduce ageism, change the status quo, and in our professional roles, to fully embrace and support the human rights of older persons. The IPA and WPA-SOAP has issued this Joint Statement on the Rights of Older Persons with Mental Health Conditions and Psychosocial disabilities. The IPA and WPA-SOAP are fully committed to support and promote a United Nations (UN) convention on the rights of older persons to safeguard that older persons with mental health conditions and psychosocial disabilities can live free from discrimination and are able to fully enjoy their rights.

William E. Reichman, President
International Psychogeriatric Association (IPA)

Afzal Javed, President
World Psychiatric Association (WPA)

References:

  • i World needs “revolution” in mental health care – UN rights expert https://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=21689
  • ii United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2020). World Population Ageing 2020 Highlights: Living arrangements of older persons (ST/ESA/SER.A/451). https://www.un.org/development/desa/pd/sites/www.un.org.development.desa.pd/files/undesa_pd-2020_world_population_ageing_highlights.pdf
  • iii WHO. Mental health of older adults https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/mental-health-of-older-adults
  • iv Global report on ageism. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2021. Licence: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 IGO. https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/340208/9789240016866-eng.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y
  • v Chang E-S, Kannoth S, Levy S, Wang S-Y, Lee JE, Levy BR (2020) Global reach of ageism on older persons’ health: A systematic review. PLoS ONE 15(1): e0220857. https://doi.org/10.1371/ journal.pone.0220857
  • vi Becca R Levy, PhD, Martin D Slade, MPH, E-Shien Chang, MA, Sneha Kannoth, MPH, Shi-Yi Wang, MD, PhD, Ageism Amplifies Cost and Prevalence of Health Conditions, The Gerontologist, Volume 60, Issue 1, February 2020, Pages 174–181, https://doi.org/10.1093/geront/gny131

Acknowledgements

Acadia Pharmaceuticals Avanir Pharmaceuticals Cambridge University Press Otsuka Pharmaceuticals
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