Mental Health Among Older Adults in New Brunswick


A recent New Brunswick report looked at older adults' alcohol use, surveying 1000 people aged 55+ from across the province. The same report provides information on their mental wellbeing and medication use. The researchers asked some general health questions, along with the 12-item General Health Questionnaire15 (GHQ 12), which used to measure overall mental health wellness.

The report notes “Although the GHQ 12 does not clinically diagnose psychiatric disorders, it provides an indication of an individual’s risk of future problem or disorder development." The screening instrument also provided a summary statistic, which they termed “impaired mental health”, to estimate the prevalence of significant disinterest or poor functioning (a minimum of 3 of the 12 symptoms measured).

The questionnaire asks about whether the person “felt constantly under strain”; “felt unable to enjoy normal activities”; "lost sleep over worry,” etc.  Here are the mental health findings. The findings are a helpful background for looking at the medication use among older adults in New Brunswick.


Overall, 41.6% of the older adults in New Brunswick surveyed felt their general health was either “very good” (28.5%) or “excellent” (13.1%) compared to other people the same age. More than one quarter (27.5%) feel that their health is “good” while nearly one-third of all seniors feel that their health is only “fair” (22.2%) or “poor” (8.6%).


There were very few seniors reporting that they were either “somewhat unhappy” (3.8%) or “unhappy with little interest in life” (0.6%). In fact, almost three-quarters of seniors said that they are usually “happy and interested in life” (72.1%).


On the other hand, just over one-fifth of New Brunswick seniors (20.8%) reported impaired mental health (that is they scored 3+ out of 12 on the General Health Questionnaire) during the past month. Here is what was asked, and the percentage of women and men responding yes.






Felt constantly under strain 20.5 17.4
Unable to enjoy normal activities 17.7 20.0
Lost sleep over worry 15.6 16.1
Not feeling useful 13.5 16.5
Felt unhappy and depressed 16.9 13.1
Feeling unhappy 14.4 12.8
Unable to concentrate 11.1 13.3
Felt couldn't overcome difficulties 8.2 11.9
Unable to face problems 7.3 9.4
Losing self-confidence 8.6 7.5
Incapable of making decisions 6.7 8.4
Thinking of self as worthless 5.8 3.1




2002 Seniors Survey – Prevalence of Substance Use and Gambling Among New Brunswick Adults Aged 55+


Page last updated Sunday October 31, 2004

Questions? Comments? Contact Webmaster: 

Return to

 Alcohol and Seniors Home Page