CFUW Marks World Mental Health Day with a Focus on Older Women

OTTAWA, October 10, 2013 – The Canadian Federation of University Women (CFUW) is marking World Mental Health Day today by raising awareness about older women’s mental health concerns. The year’s theme is “Mental Health and Older Adults”.

Older adults are those over the age of 65, and according to Statistics Canada, are the fastest growing age group in Canada, with women outnumbering men by almost 2:1 by age 80.

Women of all ages may struggle with their mental health. The gender specific risk factors leading to mental illness in women include violence, poverty and income inequality, low or subordinate social status and continuous responsibility for the care of others.  There are however some marked differences in women’s mental health needs across the lifespan. Younger women for instance may require mental health supports related to pregnancy, post-partum depression, gender-based violence, body image issues and eating disorders, among others. Older women on the other hand, have particular needs associated with diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia, but may also suffer from mental illnesses that stem from ongoing, or histories of violent victimization.

Many other factors affect the mental health of older women including grief, loneliness, retirement, financial instability, and physical health issues. Some of facts associated with older women’s mental health include:

  • Depression is twice as common in women, and recent research suggests it may be more persistent. It is also particularly common among the elderly, many of whom are undiagnosed;
  • Older adults have the highest rates of suicide, compared to other groups;
  • Older women are also twice more likely to develop dementia, in part due to their greater longevity than men; and
  • Financial abuse is particularly common among older women, which can have profound and long-term impacts on their quality of life and mental health.

“CFUW strongly supports the Mental Health Commission of Canada’s work to improve the lives of those touched by mental illness”, said Susan Murphy, President of CFUW. “Last year CFUW passed a resolution at our Annual General Meeting supporting the MHCC’s Mental Health Strategy for Canada, and calling for its full implementation. We want to see the strategy implemented across Canada in ways that are responsive to age, gender and socio-economic status differences.”

CFUW encourages Canadians to reach out to their local representatives and join us in this call.  

CFUW is a non-partisan, voluntary, self-funded organization with over 100 CFUW Clubs, located in every province across Canada. Since its founding in 1919, CFUW has been working to improve the status of women, and to promote human rights, public education, social justice, and peace. CFUW is the largest affiliate of the International Federation of University Women (IFUW), the leading girls’ and women’s global organization run by and for women, advocating for women’s rights, equality and empowerment through access to quality education and training up to the highest levels.


For more information, contact: Tara Fischer, Advocacy Coordinator, CFUW; email:; phone: 613-234-8252 ext. 106.

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