NHS and Age UK team up to tackle mental health stigmas amongst older people

NHS England, in partnership with Age UK, have recently announced a new campaign to encourage older people access treatment for mental health conditions.

Shocking recently released data reveals more than six in 10 people in the UK aged 65 or above have experienced depression and anxiety, but the majority of them do not seek any help.

The campaign aims to boost the number of older people getting the support they need and raise awareness of NHS services available.

Across Doncaster, the issue is a real problem with older people in communities feeling isolated and long term health conditions taking their toll on mental health wellbeing.

Heather Boyce, Chief Executive of Age UK Doncaster said: “These statistics aren’t a surprise and mirror the picture we see in Doncaster.  Many older people we see struggle with poor mental health – not brought about as part of the ageing process but often triggered by changes in circumstance that may be more likely in later life such as retirement or bereavement. But it’s not all bad news. This #TalkingHelps campaign is a positive step in helping to raise awareness and reduce stigma; and when older people do engage in with mental health support such as talking therapies, the outcomes are often better than the population average.”

Stephen Emmerson, Head of Strategy & Delivery for Adult Mental Health at Doncaster Clinical Commissioning Group said: “There is a common misconception that having poor mental health is just part and parcel of the aging process with many older people not giving it a second thought to seek support for how low they feel. We are working hard in Doncaster to invest in mental health services and encourage everyone of any age to talk to someone about how they are feeling and find out more about services on the doorstep which may be a great help. There are a variety of mental health services which can help people struggling with all levels of issues, most of which are accessed by calling the Single Point of Access hub 01302 566999.”

The campaign is also encouraging doctors and local practice staff to look out for symptoms of mental ill-health among older patients and make them aware support is available and should not be something to shy away from.

In line with this, Age UK and the NHS are calling on health care professionals to:

• Start the conversation about depression and anxiety with the older people you see

• Think twice before offering medication to treat depression and anxiety in older people as a first-line treatment option

• And, refer more older people to NHS psychological therapy services without age restrictions

To find out more about the campaign visit the website https://www.ageuk.org.uk/information-advice/health-wellbeing/mind-body/mental-wellbeing/ or search ‘Your mind Matters’.

For more information about how Age UK Doncaster provides support and empowerment for people 50+ in the borough or ways to get involved in their work contact 01302 812345 or admin@ageukdoncaster.org.uk.