Mind comments on Age Concern inquiry into mental health and wellbeing in later life
Posted Monday 13 August 2007
Leading mental health charity Mind today (Monday 13 August) commented on a new inquiry which highlights the shameful neglect of older people in the UK who experience mental distress.
Mind Chief Executive Paul Farmer said:
"Depression is one of the most common health problems developed by older people but fewer than ten per cent are referred to specialist mental health services. When older people are offered support, it frequently involves drug therapy and talking treatments are overlooked, even though this may be the patient's preferred choice."
"For those who have lived with mental health problems for most of their life, there is an unacceptable gap between the services available to them at working age and those available at 65. Many Local Authorities have age barriers on their services, which means on reaching 65, people can be shunted to different, inappropriate services where the focus is on age and not mental health needs. Seamless, continuous care is what's needed, services should not just disappear because someone has reached 'a certain age'."
"Our population is getting older and by 2051 we expect there will be 5 million older people with depression and 1.7 million with dementia - almost twice the current numbers. We are sitting on a timebomb when it comes to the care of older people with mental health problems and we must take this opportunity to act on today's recommendations. Mental health is an issue for everyone from the cradle to the grave."
Mind's Access all Ages report published in October 2005, found woeful inadequacies in the mental health services offered to people in later life, including:
- cut-off of essential mental health services available for over 65s
- lack of treatment choice with older people being seen as a lower priority for treatment such as psychotherapy
- age discrimination by GPs, including lack of drugs information
- lack of any specific suicide prevention policy despite very high suicide rate - a third of suicides are committed by over 55s each year
- high prescription of electro-convulsive therapy for over 65s - double any other age group (Department of Health, 2002)
Age Concern's UK Inquiry into mental health and wellbeing in later life began in late 2003 out of concern about the neglect of older people's mental health in policy, practice and research. Today, it has published its final report, which will set forward action points on the reform of mental health care for older people. The report draws on a detailed review of literature and policy, a fieldwork study and other evidence from older people, their carers, organisations and professionals.