In light of recent events in the Middle East and elsewhere around the globe, our hearts go out to those members of our organization with loved ones who have been impacted by these conflicts. We also know that our patients and their families are experiencing great sadness, grief, pain, and fear. In the recent years, we have learned that the world is really a small place, where what happens in one country affects the entire world population.
We are living in an era of in which we are grappling with volatile and unsettling events around the world- wars, climate disasters, polarizing political discourse that brought forth the global awareness of rising unmet mental health needs of the general population. The world is just emerging from three years of the Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic into the flares of geopolitical conflicts, wars, refugee crisis, and persistent climate disasters. Older adults have been at disproportionate risk of severe infection and mortality, and vulnerable to endure loneliness and social exclusion during the pandemic, and other disasters. The triple stigma affecting older adults of aging, disability, and mental illness “ageism, mentalism, and ableism” can act as significant risk factor during this time, increasing the physical as well as psychosocial burden on the elderly. Marginalization and human rights deprivation emerged as a common pathway of suffering for the elderly. Many of our patients have experienced personal and intergenerational trauma and the healthcare disparities.
All is happening on the heels of the Old Age Psychiatry Section meeting at the World Psychiatric Congress in Vienna in early October 2023 that brought the sense of urgency to unite to defend human rights of our older patients with neuropsychiatric disorders and their families. The participants included Carlos De Mendonça Lima (Chair, Old Age Psychiatry, WPA), Anne Margriet Pot (President Elect IPA), Dilip Jeste (Editor In- Chief, International Psychogeriatrics), Kiran Rabheru (Canadian Association of Geriatric Psychiatry, Thomas Schulze (President elect WPA), Perminder Sachdev (Australia, Brain Health), and Helen Lavretsky (President, AAGP) where urgency to form a coalition advocating for Mental health of Older adults as human rights, and develop guidelines on the rights of older adults to Mental Health.
October 10, 2023 was the World’s Mental Health Day that also attracted a lot of attention and published articles. WHO stated that the highest attainable standard of mental health includes the right to be protected from mental health risks, the right to available, accessible, acceptable, and good quality care, and the right to liberty.
In the face of the rising global stress and conflict, We stand with our patients and their families, and will continue to work tirelessly on their behalf and on behalf of their human rights for Brain and Mental Health, and call upon our members to become active advocates for our patients and for our profession.