The EMMY Project: Promoting mental wellbeing among the oldest old – The Finnish Case

Research output: Other contribution



The European Welfare Models and Mental Wellbeing in Final Years of Life (EMMY, 2017-19) project covers interdisciplinary and mixed method studies on mental wellbeing among the oldest old in Finland, Italy, Norway and Spain. The overarching aim is to strengthen the understanding of how welfare models and related policies could be adapted to support mental wellbeing in the oldest old. Project results will be incorporated in a new tool for assessing the mental wellbeing impact of welfare policies.


23 focus group interviews were conducted, including 117 participants aged 80 years or older. Six of these were conducted in Finland (N = 28) and the data was analysed using qualitative content analysis. In a policy analysis, relevant national legislation, plans and programmes were identified from the four countries. Five key stakeholders in each country validated the identified policies in interviews. The policy items were systematically coded (N = 42 in Finland), focusing on their correspondence with older adults’ own views on their mental wellbeing and its protective factors.


The findings highlight that although functional status undeniably plays an important role for experienced wellbeing in general, it is not the principal component of the experienced mental wellbeing among the oldest-old. The Finnish policy case pinpoints both promising policy examples, but also development needs such as the inclusion of issues related to e.g. digitalization and social challenges including loneliness.


These findings have significant multi-level implications, showcasing the importance of coordinated actions at societal and individual levels alike. Actions to enhance social participation, especially for individuals with reduced social networks are needed, as well as a more holistic approach in general considering the multi-dimensional nature of experienced mental wellbeing in later life.

Key messages
  • Results support the exchange of good policies between EU Member States to incorporate a change of focus from mental disorders to mental wellbeing among older people and its protective factors.

  • Country-specific case studies highlight the relevance of context,pinpointing the various pathways to increased mental wellbeing that could be translated into policy.

Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Publication statusPublished - 2019

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