May 11, 2022
Mental Health Priorities of Older Adults in the Community
Written by Emily Carr
The Precision Mental Health Project is an ongoing project in partnership with The Simon Fraser University Gerontology department. Referred to as Mental Health: A Creative Collaboration, by the Emily Carr team and older adult participants, this project aims to identify and understand the mental health priorities of community-dwelling older adults. The first phase of this project was completed at the end of March 2022.
HDL research assistants conducted co-design workshops with older adult participants—first getting to know each other through “connection kits” which were mailed to participants. The connection kits encouraged participants to be thoughtful about their surroundings and supported them in a guided self-reflection, priming them to the co-creative process while offering personal context to the HDL team for their first engagement.
Workshop conversation topics included: what “aging” and “mental health” mean, the motivating factors behind taking part in different activities which support one’s mental health, reasons why certain activities and connections are important, “tips” for maintaining good mental health, and how one negotiates feelings that arise in different contexts and mental health experiences.
Participants were very open and generously shared stories of their own mental health challenges and instances where they experienced pride, joy, and comfort.
Synthesis from the conversations with participants led to the realization of 7 distinct themes.
These themes highlighted the participants’ understanding of “mental health priorities”.
During the second phase of this project, HDL will continue collaboration with SFU and more older adult participants to better understand when and where interventions could be offered to support and maintain good mental health for community-dwelling older adults.