Lia Fernandes, researcher from CINTESIS – Center for Health Technology and Services Research, is the Portuguese specialist among the authors of the book “Global Mental Health – Prevention and Promotion”, edited by the renowned publisher Springer.
The CINTESIS psychiatrist and mental health researcher is the author of the chapter entitled “Mental Health and Carers,” in which she recalls that the number of elderly people already reaches 900 million (12% of the world’s population), and it is estimated that it will rise to 2 billion (22% of the world’s population) by 2050, according to forecasts by the World Health Organization (WHO).
The increase of the elderly population will have an important impact on societies, and it is fundamental to recognize the role played by carers of the elderly, be they family members or health professionals. In this context, Lia Fernandes proposes to adopt “new policies based on effective social and health interventions to promote mental health in the elderly population, their carers and their families.”
At the end of the chapter, the author summarizes a group of strategies and interventions that have proven to be effective, such as family therapy, psychoeducational programs for stress management and behaviour change, training with patients to increase their skills, among others. The psychiatrist also urges the adoption of preventive interventions focused on the individual, and “early diagnosis and personalized interventions will be much more cost-effective than the usual solution – institutionalization.” She also maintains that this option is “adverse and costly for the elderly, for families, for carers and for the community”.
This edition was organized by the Swiss specialist Sabine Bährer-Kohler (professor at the International University of Catalonia, Spain, and collaborator of the WHO) and by the neurologist Francisco Javier Carod-Artal (from the Raigmore Hospital, NHS Highland, United Kingdom).
Lia Fernandes is an integrated researcher of the group AgeingC – Aging & Neurosciences Research, at CINTESIS. She is a psychiatrist with competence in Geriatrics recognised by the Portuguese Order of Doctors. She is also a senior graduate assistant in Psychiatry at the Hospital Center of São João and family therapist, and associate professor com agregação (tenure) at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Porto, where she is the chair of the curricular unit on Psychiatry and Mental Health – Clinical Practice. In addition, she is responsible for the area of Mental Health of the Graduate Programme in Gerontology and Geriatrics of the University of Porto/University of Aveiro, and lecturer in many other universities.