The “Australian National Standards for Mental Health Services 2010”, in conjunction with the “Implementation guidelines for Public Mental Health Services and Private Hospitals” both inform and guide the development and application of appropriate practices across the lifespan.
Embedded within these standards are the principles of recovery which include “gaining and retaining hope, understanding of one’s abilities and disabilities, engagement in an active life, personal autonomy, social identity, meaning and purpose in life and a positive sense of self.”
Several developmental theorists present conceptual frameworks that describe stages or developmental tasks that arise during the life spectrum and which characterize stages of maturity. The descriptive “Integrity versus Despair” period of Erikson neatly conceptualizes the dilemma faced by the ageing client of successful integration of life challenges and achievements contrasted against the despair of meaninglessness and failure.
Jonathan and Joan address the specific adaptation of recovery principles to the challenge of the resolution of life meaning for the older person.
Applying the principles of recovery for the older person (65 years and older) suffering from mental illness, is a challenge for clinicians at a time when the generative activities of life are often on the wane and at a time when they may begin to dwell on inevitable mortality.
In Western cultures death is not integrated fully into the fabric of life.
Failure to recognize the importance and influence of dying can distort and warp adaptive maturation, giving rise to anxiety disorders, depression and an all pervading sense of hopelessness, thwarting attempts by the mental health worker to engage meaningfully.
A complementary theoretical framework of resolution is presented which integrates principles of recovery into a holistic approach to the unique and complex challenges that present in the later stages of the lifespan. Meaning and self determination are emphasized in this approach, and resolution of life issues is addressed in three domains, namely; resolution of focus, priorities and meaning.
Mr Jonathan Smith & Joan Gavan, Older Persons Mental Health Community Team will present at the:
13th International Mental Health Conference, "Positive Change -- Investing in Mental Health" 6th to the 8th of August 2012, on the Gold Coast.