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Aging and Mental Health: Collaborating on Research Priorities

Aging and Mental Health: Collaborating on Research Priorities

Choosing the Mental Health Priorities That Matter to You

Sign up for a notification when Survey 2 goes live! Take a look at the questions from Survey 1!


This webpage is part of the information sharing process for the Aging and Mental Health: Collaborating on Research Priorities. We will be sharing our progress and findings through each step of the process. You can read our newsletter here, or you can read our one-page summary here.

Our second national survey will be going live in early November! Stay tuned for the link to appear here or sign up to receive an update when we make it available.

Approximately 300 Canadians completed Survey 1 and shared 40+ priorities related to aging and mental health support, care, and treatment. We will be prioritizing the unanswered questions and asking Canadians to identify their top 10 questions. Questions that have already been answered will be shared here. 

Click here to see a copy of the priorities identified in Survey 1. 


What are we doing?

The SE Research Centre and The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) are working together to identify the top 10 unanswered research questions on aging and mental health that are a priority to older adults, caregivers and health and social care providers across Canada.

Our approach is informed by the James Lind Alliance Approach to Priority Setting Partnerships (James Lind Alliance, 2018). We are seeking the input of older adults, caregivers and health and social care providers in the following ways:

  • Monthly steering group meetings
  • 2 national surveys
  • An in-person workshop

Why is this important?

Age-related changes (e.g., loss of social roles, retirement, living alone, bereavement and physical and mental health conditions) can negatively impact our overall mental health—our “positive sense of well-being, or the capacity to enjoy life and deal with the challenges we face” (CMHA, 2009).

While the topic of aging is a globally recognized health research priority area, there is a major gap in aging focused mental health research. We need to learn more about the role and significance of age-related changes on mental health to better understand the needs of the diverse and growing population of older adults in Canada and advocate for greater investments in mental health support, care and treatment to meet these needs.

*As significant research is already taking place across Canada on the topic of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, these topics are excluded from this survey


How can you help?

Are you an older adult (age 55+), a caregiver (family, friend, neighbor etc. who provides support to an older adult), and/or a health and social care provider (paid to provide care to older adults)?

If you answered yes, we invite you to complete our short (~10-15 minutes) survey to pick your top 10 priorities related to aging and mental health from the perspective of support, care, and treatment:

Support: information, resources and services meant to communicate to, educate, or connect people on the topic of mental health (e.g., CMHA website)

Care: services focused on protecting and promoting individual abilities and strengths of anyone experiencing poor mental health (e.g., counselling)

Treatment: medical and professional interventions to cure or alleviate symptoms of a diagnosed mental health illness (e.g., medication)


What are we doing right now?

We just finished our eighth steering group meeting, and are excited to share our second National Survey with you in early November. It will be available until December 10th, 2020 at 11:59pm.

As a thank you for participating, we are offering a draw of ten $50.00 CAD pre-paid Visa cards. At the end of the survey, you will be offered the chance to enter your name in the draw to win one. You can complete the survey as many times as you like, but your name will only be entered into the draw for the gift cards once.


Our process

This collaboration was originally brainstormed in 2018 with a recognition between the SE Research Centre and CMHA that the mental health needs of older adults are poorly understood. But we didn't want to recreate the typical researcher-driven work.

Our goal was to understand what real people in the community want to know. We recognize that your unique experiences and perspectives are essential. We believe the best way to understand your needs is to involve you in every step of the way, and to have you lead the charge. 

We are using a 'bottom-up' approach, and starting from the very basics by asking: What do older adults, their family and caregivers, and health and social care providers want to know about mental health and aging?

CMHA and the SE Research Centre are using a step-by-step, systematic approach to gather this information and compare it to existing research. We will develop a list of priority areas that are not answered by currently published research studies, and share that with our network. Focusing on these questions will help guide novel and impactful research for years to come. 

The priority areas that you have identified, but that have already been addressed in research will also be shared on our website and through our partners. As an attendee of the CMHA Mental Health for All conference noted - "what we don't know, but that research does, is still important!"


Additional Resources 

If you're looking for a way to help you cope with social isolation during COVID-19, check out the courses offered through CMHA's recovery colleges below.

  • CMHA Physically Separated Socially Connected Course  - available here

If you're interested in understanding more about aging and mental health, check out the following articles and websites. 

  • Advancing Mental Health Promotion in Canada - available here 

In 2019, the Canadian Mental Health Association published a report on mental health in Canada and outlined multiple suggestions for how to promote better wellbeing across the country. If you want to understand our national priorities, and mental health in general, this is an excellent introduction. 

  • Elizz: Lifestyle Destination for Daughters and Sons - website here

Elizz is a website designed to support older adults, caregivers and families. It offers articles on caregiving skills, how to stay mentally healthy, support services, and relationship advice. You can find tips for navigating the transit system as an older adult, arranging multi-generational holidays, or writing a last will and testament. It also includes the Care Channel which provides free resources for family and community caregivers. 

  • Mental Health Considerations for the Older Adult - available here 

The Seniors Health Knowledge Network focuses on sharing evidence and knowledge across disciplines, in addition to developing relationships among: practitioners, researchers, educators, policy makers, and older adults. They have a regular publication called Linkages which highlights upcoming events, opportunities and updates related to aging, health and caring for older adults. Their January 2020 newsletter includes a large list of resources, information, and research studies that may be of interest. 

  • Older adults: where to go when you're looking for help - available here

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) has created a list of organizations and resources that focus on providing services to individuals 65 years and older. Some do offer services for individuals aged 55. The list is sorted by topic and covers: addictions, Alzheimer's Disease and other Dementias, mental health programs, community support for seniors and caregivers, and elder abuse.

  • What older adults and their families and friends need to know about ... Depression - available here
  • What older adults and their families and friends need to know about ... Anxiety - available here

A set of resources from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) that provide information on how to recognize the signs of depression and anxiety. These short articles also provide suggestions on what older adults can do if they are experiencing these symptoms. Each has a short list of organizations or contacts that can be useful for more information. 



If you have any questions or concerns, or are interested in participating in any way, please contact research@sehc.com. We are always looking for new members and voices.