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Keywords:

  • Psychiatry of the Elderly;
  • stigma;
  • discrimination;
  • mental disorders

Abstract

Background and objectives

The European Office of the World Health Organization (WHO/EURO) has established a Task Force On Destigmatization. Upon the release of the Technical Statement on Old Age Psychiatry ‘Reducing stigma and discrimination against older people with mental disorders’, the Task Force run a small survey in two European subregions to investigate the extent of stigma and discrimination with reference to the elderly person affected from a psychiatric disorder in the countries of those subregions.

Methods

WHO/EURO mental health counterparts completed a short questionnaire inquiring on the inclusion of epidemiological studies on the elderly in their country's research program; the time devoted to the teaching to old age psychiatry during psychiatric residence; the degree of coverage of services for the elderly person and their caregivers; and the extent of stigma present in society with regard to three psychiatric disorders.

Results

Stigma and discrimination seem to be present both in the health sector and among the public at large.

Conclusion

The development of effective health and social facilities to support older persons with mental disorders should be a high priority of any strategy to reduce stigma and discrimination. These facilities should coordinate their efforts with those of other sectors of society to reach the highest possible impact. Copyright © 2003 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.