Mental health and older adults

Mental disorders affect more than a third of the population in the WHO European Region every year.

Mental health problems are common among older people. Dementia affects 5% of people over 65 on average, and 20% of those over 80. Many such problems go undetected, and older people are often reluctant to seek help. Simple steps can promote mental health, as well as help prevent and treat mental disorders.

On World Mental Health Day – 10 October – take steps to enhance the quality of life and well-being of older people.

WHO/Europe and mental health among older people

The European Mental Health Action Plan for 2013–2020, adopted by countries in the WHO European Region in September 2013, proposes effective and integrated action throughout life to strengthen mental health and well-being in the European Region. The Plan calls for activities to support mental health among older people, including:

  • providing living spaces and neighbourhoods that are safe, convenient and accessible, as defined by older people, and that facilitate their participation, mobility and autonomy; and
  • offering opportunities for e-learning to facilitate older people’s access to social networks and early intervention programmes.