Phenix Center for Economic and Informatics Studies in cooperation HelpAge Jordan issued a policy paper calling to pay more attention to the psychological and mental health of older Jordanian and Syrian refugees in Jordan.
The paper was launched during a discussion session on 26 April 2023 and has two main focus points: the reality of mental and psychological health for older people, and the applicable protective legal framework in Jordan.
The paper outlines the difficulties for older Syrian refugees and vulnerable Jordanians in Jordan, who face significant health, psychological and social problems. For many, especially Syrian refugees, chronic diseases represent a major financial challenge, due to high treatment costs for needed health care and prescription medication.
Phenix Center’s director, Ahmad Awad, stated that the paper comes because of a lack of interest in issues relating to older people in Jordan. Therefore, this paper fills a gap in the current discourse, providing an extensive study on older people’s psychological and mental health, including both Jordanians and non-Jordanians. Awad pointed out that today, there are approximately 588 thousand people aged 65 and above, noting that this percentage is expected to triple by the year 2050.
“This demographic shift highlights the importance of meeting older people’s health needs, including their psychological and mental health”, Awad continued.
Sawsan Sa’ada, Director of HelpAge in Jordan, added that in 2020, for the first time, the number of older people globally exceeded the number of children under the age of 5. Sa’ada stressed the need for more international laws to protect older people. Such a law, Sa’ada underlined needs to be binding to all countries and should be the basis for all national policies and programs. She noted that in Jordan, there already is a national strategy for older people.
Mohammad Miqdadi, Secretary-General of the National Council for Family Affairs, emphasized that mental health is a national issue. He stressed the need to find alternatives to provide comprehensive home health care for older people, because the state is “unable” to provide it.
Sanaa Al-Naimat, from the Al-Hussein Social Foundation, affiliated with the Ministry of Social Development, confirmed the insufficient emphasis on specialized medical training and study programs, especially in regards to geriatrics.
The policy paper also stressed the inadequacy of the current legal framework in providing protection for older people, including a lack of dedicated laws to protect older people from violence and mistreatment.
The paper further called for increasing awareness for the health needs of older Syrian refugees, by training UNHCR staff and other parties to respond more effectively to the medical, psychological, and social needs of older Syrian refugees.