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  • Dr. Romi Fung, ND

Integrated Mental Healthcare Post #5: Optimizing Mental and Physical Health

Updated: Dec 7, 2019

What is normal and abnormal aging, and how does an integrated primary mental healthcare contribute? First off, we have to understand that mental health does not refer just to the absence of psychiatric disorders, with the latter being interpreted as medical manifestations of mental illness (Robertson, 1996). While there is debate as to what constitutes a sense of well-being across cultures, mental health is understood to refer to a state of physical, spiritual and emotional well-being which is determined not only by the physical disease process, but also by social, cultural and material conditions. (Petersen, 2000). Therefore, we have to look at the signs and symptoms of abnormal aging as keys to potential mental health conditions.  

WHO defines Healthy Ageing “as the process of developing and maintaining the functional ability that enables wellbeing in older age”. Functional ability is about having the capabilities that enable all people to be and do what they have reason to value (WHO, 2019). This means possessing the capabilities to perform activities of daily living.  

How can we design health supports to accommodate older adults with interrelated mental, physical and social health issues?  There is evidence that shows that an integrated model of healthcare can address both physical and mental concerns. There can't likely be one without the other. There are signs and symptoms that can be seen as a physical abnormality such as low energy, weight gain or hypersomnia when in fact can be a sign of depression (Horgan, 2019). These can be recognized by primary healthcare practitioners and be dealt with in the screening, prevention and promotion of mental health.


Horgan, S. (2019). Lecture Slides.

World Health Organization. (2019). Healthy Ageing.

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