Purpose of This Website

The purpose of the Seniors Policy Lens website is to provide tools to guide policy development and review from the perspectives of diverse seniors, and to facilitate seniors’ mental health/wellbeing.

Defining Mental Health, Well-Being and Policy

"Mental health”, as conceptualized here, can be equated with “well-being”. (Mental health is defined as the capacity of the individual, the group and the environment to interact with one another in ways that promote subjective well-being: Health & Welfare Canada, 1988). In this context environment includes policies, (government, organizational and practice) that shape the individuals social environment, in part, through the design and delivery of health and social services. Mental health is a broad concept that suggests a continuum from wellness through illness. Mental health can be promoted and supported (or not) wherever the individual is situated on the continuum): therefore both a mentally ill person and a mentally healthy person can have better or worse mental health/wellbeing.

Project Background and Rationale

There is a growing interest in affecting change through influencing policy and there are a number of policy. The Seniors Mental Health Policy Lens (created and evaluated through previous funding by the Population Health Fund, Public Health Agency of Canada), forms the backbone of this project. The SMHPL is an analytical tool, made up of a set of questions intended to raise users’ awareness about the factors that impact the mental health/wellbeing of older adults, and to guide their analyses of policies and programs from a seniors’ mental health perspective. It is built on the expressed values and concerns of seniors, on the principles of population health, mental health promotion and healthy aging public policy, and on the social determinants of health. The SMHPL has been designed for use with policy that directly or indirectly affects older adults’ mental health/wellbeing. It is intended to promote seniors’ wellbeing/mental health.

The SMHPL areas of inquiry/questions include many of the elements that make up other specialized PLs (e.g., social integration, gender) . At the same time, the SMHPL is comprised of core elements (e.g., principles of population health and mental health promotion, determinants of health/healthy aging, seniors’ values and perspectives, etc.) that are missing in, but relevant to, the other PLs.

This project developed because there are number of policy lens (PL) with varying relevance to seniors mental health and emotional well being. It is the intent of most of these PLs to guide policy analysis from their particular perspective, and they each target all levels of government, NGOs, community organizations and in some instances, health care services, health professionals and under-graduates in the human service professions.

This project developed out of a concern that with so many PLs potential end-users could become overwhelmed and use none. Equally likely, potential users might experience difficulty in knowing which PL to apply for what purpose.

Benefits of Using This Website

This project links the SMHPL and other PLs pertinent to seniors’ mental health and well being.
Doing so (1) broadens the applicability, (2) maximizes knowledge translation (3) increases the accessibility (4) facilitates knowledge mobilization and (5) maximizes dissemination of the
SMHPL, in an efficient manner.

The web site is a vehicle for translating knowledge about seniors’ values and concerns, vulnerable populations of seniors, the principles of population health, mental health promotion and healthy aging public policy and social determinants of health/healthy aging.

  • The focus of the SMHPL can be sharpened and deepened for specific vulnerable populations of seniors (e.g., persons with disabilities, women), specific areas (e.g., health impact, social inclusion), or purposes (e.g., mental health promotion, emergency preparedness) by following the appropriate links from the SMHPL Toolkit
  • Background information is provided in Appendix 3 about key concepts (e.g., principles of population health) and components (e.g., vulnerable populations: gays and lesbians) and their impact/relationship specific to seniors’ mental health
  • A primer on the principles of carrying out policy analysis is provided by the following links from the SMHPL Toolkit.
  • The SMHPL Toolkit includes examples of how others have used the SMHPL, in Appendix 1. More Examples of How the SMHPL Has Been Applied, as well as tips for using the SMHPL in Appendix 2.