Mental Wellbeing

For Mental Health Awareness Week 2015, Outside the Box decided to raise awareness about mental well-being among older people through the Wisdom in Practice project. We wanted to show that there is good support if you ask, and that there are things people can do to look after their own mental health and well-being.

Our starting point came from the Mental Health Foundation’s publication, ‘Ten ways to look after your mental health’. We wanted to find out how advice like this could work for older people. We also wanted to hear directly from older people about their own ‘happiness habits’.

We have now put together a short report from all the information we gathered:

Happiness Habits for Older People

We are still welcoming examples, via email, post, telephone and twitter (using the hashtag #happinesshabitsWIP). Please get in touch if you would like to contribute.

Here are some of the happiness habits we have received so far.

“My first happiness habit is definitely to keep dancing as long as I am mobile. I currently do 4 nights per week which includes ballroom, Latin American, sequence and Ceroc (jive). I meet people in their 80s who are still dancing- it’s good for the memory, balance, motor skills, making the effort to get dressed up and go out into a social setting and talk to people, keeping the chemistry and physical closeness going in a partnership, and for fun and laughter. All perfect ingredients in a Happiness Habit recipe!  Sandra, Aberdeen
Singing is not only an enjoyable activity, it can also provide a way for people with dementia, along with their carers, to express themselves and socialise with others in a fun and supportive group.
Lorraine Bruce, TRFS East Renfrewshire Dementia Service

dolly partonPerth Horsecross Voices sing to stay happy- especially on ‘Dolly Parton night’!

“We have a few Tenants who are keen gardeners, some of our Tenant’s take part in Friday afternoon exercise classes, bingo on Thursday nights and we have a Tenant who takes guitar lessons. All of our Tenants come together every day for lunch and dinner.” Margaret McSeveney, TRUST Housing Association

sunday teasContact the Elderly organise monthly Sunday afternoon tea parties for people aged 75 and over, who live alone with little or no support from friends, family or statutory services. The afternoons are full of fun and laughter and make a real difference to the lives of their older guests.

“Here’s a photo for Wisdom in Practice – category ‘Keep in Touch’- one of our Sunday teas. Smiles!” Margaret Oliver, Contact the Elderly




 “Spending time with family and friends who love us and appreciate us so that there are plenty of good positive vibes of laughter and love surrounding us.”

Other resources

Mental Health and Wellbeing - Discussion paper about Mental health and wellbeing and older people in Scotland

Increasing the Voice, Visibility and Influence of Asian older people with mental health problems

Facts and Figures about Older People’s Mental Health

Promoting mental health and well-being later in life: Age Concern and Mental Health Foundation report

Grouchy Old Men: Mental Health Foundation – A brief guide to help develop services that engage older men and promote good mental health and wellbeing

Getting on: Institute _for _Public_ Policy _Research wellbeing in later life

A guide for Commissioners  – Promoting Mental Health and Well-being in Later Life