Three past winners of the Healthy Aging Prize for Asian Innovation (HAPI) were featured on a panel at the ASEM Global Ageing Center (AGAC) Forum on the Human Rights of Older Persons: Present and Future online and in Seoul, Korea. The theme of the meeting this year was “Human Rights and the Mental-Emotional Health of Older Persons.” Since the number of older people living with mental health problems is on the rise, mental illness among older adults may eventually lead to other serious issues, such as suicide or lonely deaths. Furthermore, COVID-19 and the associated lockdowns have increased loneliness among older people and contributed to heightened concern for their mental health. The forum brought together various stakeholders—international organizations, national government officials, academic researchers, and civil society groups and activists—to 1) address general concerns and issues relating to the mental and emotional health of older persons in Asia and Europe, especially in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic; 2) discuss immediate and long-term measures to tackle the mental health crisis as well as best practices that can be implemented by governments and international civil society groups; and 3) explore what additional efforts can and should be made to increase global cooperation in preventing the mental health problems including social isolation and loneliness of older persons as well as to raise public awareness of the issue.
Session 2 of the meeting focused on the Civil Society Talk Concert: Sharing and Exploring Rights-Based Community Building Practices. Ms. Chu Viet Nga, Senior Manager of HelpAge International in Vietnam, introduced the Intergenerational Self-Help Club (ISHC) Development Model. Prof. Nattapat Sarobol of Thammasat University and Ms. Thitinan Nakphu from Bueng Yitho Municipality, Thailand, spoke about their STRONG Program – A Collaborative Municipal-Community Model for Comprehensive Elderly Care, and Ms. Tomoyo Suzuki from NOGEZAKA-GLOCAL in Japan, who was also involved in and collaborated with the STRONG Program with the Thai partners, spoke about a similar project in Japan. Furthermore, Mr. Kensuke Sugawara from Grundtvig.Inc. based in Japan discussed their project called Housing Complex as One Big Family. We are delighted to see our HAPI winners sharing their innovations with a broad audience!