Mental health in older men in Chile: a reality to be prioritized

Aravena et al.

Mental health problems are a set of high-impact conditions. People aged 60 years and over are particularly vulnerable to factors that increase their risk of experiencing mental health problems and fatal outcomes, such as suicide. Within this age group, men as a subgroup are seldom the targets of relevant public health measures.

This article aims to characterize the mental health status of men aged 60 years and over in Chile by using data from population-based surveys carried out in the country: the 2003 and 2009 National Health Surveys (NHS), the 2009 National Study of Dependency in Older Persons (ENADEAM), and the 2015 National Socioeconomic Characterization Survey (CASEN). The article looks at indicators for depression and depressive symptoms, suicide, and suicidal ideation, as well as mental health visits. According to reported figures from these surveys, older men in Chile constitute the population subgroup with the highest suicide rate, the lowest reported rates of suicidal ideation and suicide attempts, and the lowest reported frequency of mental health visits.

Furthermore, men report depression less often than women. These figures provide an approximate picture of the mental health profile of older men in Chile and give rise to questions regarding the relevance of current epidemiological models for the identification of mental health risk profiles in this group. They also point to the urgent need to design health programs that integrate gender considerations in order to ensure proper screening and the acceptability of potential interventions for promoting mental health and reducing risk factors among older men.

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