Have your say on the future of mental health care
Many of us will be familiar with feelings of stress, anxiety, or low mood. Some of us may have also experienced mental health conditions like depression or know someone who has. Mental health problems can affect people at any stage of life, and they can have a real impact on someone’s happiness and quality of life.
At Independent Age, we want to make sure that people can age well with dignity, choice and purpose, and keeping good mental health is central to that.
We know that 1 in 10 people aged 65 and over in England has at least a moderate level of anxiety or depression — that’s nearly 1.2 million people. But too many older people miss out on vital mental health support and treatment. This needs to change.
That’s why we’re responding to the government’s mental health and wellbeing consultation, which will inform a new 10-year plan to improve mental health in England for people of all ages. We want to make sure that the mental health needs of older people are factored into the government’s plans.
Photo: Centre for Ageing Better (CC0 1.0)
Mental health problems do not need to be an inevitable part of growing older, and if people get the support they need there is a good chance their mental health and wellbeing can improve.
That’s why it is crucial that the government hears from as many people as possible to shape and inform their plans. Making your voice heard will show the government that older people’s mental health must be a priority as they form their plans. We’ll be doing just that, and we’d love to count on your support to shape the future of mental health care.
Here’s what we’ll be covering in our response, and we really recommend you tell the government what’s important to you by responding to the consultation.
At Independent Age, we’ve heard from people firsthand that the reasons for experiencing anxiety or depression are complex. Among many things, living in poverty, having caring responsibilities, being socially isolated or not getting support after a bereavement are some of the underlying factors that can cause mental ill-health. Tackling these issues is essential for improving the nation’s mental health and wellbeing.
Getting early support for any mental health issues you’re having is incredibly important. While for some people that will need to be in a ‘clinical’ setting, such as in the NHS or from private counsellors, for others getting this support is much more informal. This could be your friends or family, a local charity or where you work — and it’s crucial our mental health system makes sure there is a variety of ways you can get support that works for you.
Common talking therapies can really make a difference for people aged 65 and over — in fact this age group has the best recovery rate of any age group in England. But, this treatment isn’t being offered to enough older people and we need that to change. As a result, we’ll be calling for wider access to talking therapy for people in later life.
The consultation asks what the government and NHS should prioritise over the next 10 years. At Independent Age, we think there are three key areas that need attention.
- Firstly, preventing the root causes of mental ill-health such as poverty or loneliness can go a long way to improving wellbeing.
- Secondly, making sure that there’s the right support at an early stage can reduce the chance of mental health issues becoming serious.
- And thirdly, we know that stigma plays a large part in why older people don’t access mental health treatment — so action to reduce that, for example by increasing the number of mental health campaigns that target older people and educating healthcare professionals, can make a huge difference.
Originally published at https://medium.com on June 24, 2022.