Mental health for older people..

Liam Butler interviews researcher Chris Allison about promoting mental health for Older People

 Chris how can your research into Global Ageing and the Challenges and Opportunities for Nelson-Tasman and Aotearoa New Zealand be used to promote mental health for older people?

Chris Allison: As people age, for instance, their demands on health systems have tended to increase. At the same time, increasing costs of treatment goods and services, such as labour costs and medical technology and treatment, will be compounded by the impact of what has been described as an ‘epidemic’ of obesity and associated chronic health conditions.

What this means is that the current NZ health system, while being able to adapt up to this point, is unlikely to cope with the level of demand in the near-future. Estimates by the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research suggest that within eight years NZ will need to shift its approach to healthcare spending if this is not to undermine Government’s ability to maintain its budget.

In the face of these social and health system challenges, Promoting Mental Health for Older People: Global Ageing and the Challenges and Opportunities for Nelson-Tasman and Aotearoa New Zealand looks at the critical role of creating and maintaining wellbeing and resilience rather than relying on our traditional health focus of treating illness. The document is concerned primarily with mental health for older people, but it emphasises the need to be actively responsible for our mental and our physical health as a life-long habit, utilising approaches such as the ‘Five Ways to Wellbeing’ model.

To read the full report visit

About  Chris Allison: Chris is part of the Mental Health Promotion team at Health Action Trust Nelson. His background is in clinical psychology, with work in general community-based mental health, burnout prevention, and in hospice and oncology settings. He is currently working as a behavioural researcher and health promoter with a particular interest in building mental and physical resilience for older age, and in the role of cycling and urban design in fostering health and social connection.

About Health Action Trust

Health Action Trust is a community-based healthpromotion organisation that emerged from a 1982 Community Action project in Nelson, New Zealand. 

Mission: To work with communities to improve health and remove barriers that limit wellbeing.

Philosophies: People’s health and well-being is affected by all aspects of their everyday life. From our perspective, good health and well-being is created by caring for oneself and others, and by being able to have control over one’s life.


About Liam Butler