Responding the government’s mental health plan call for evidence, Morgan Vine, Head of Policy and Influencing at Independent Age, said:
“Contrary to some beliefs, having mental health problems isn’t an inevitable part of getting older and it’s not something older people should have to just ‘put up’ with.
“It has never been more urgent to support older people with mental health problems. Teams across Independent Age are speaking to people in later life who are sharing the significant toll the pandemic and the cost of living crisis is having on their mental wellbeing. Roughly 1 in 10 people aged 65 and over have depression but only 5% of all the patients receiving NHS talking therapy are older, and this proportion is falling.
“We welcome the government’s new consultation as part of a much-needed coordinated approach to improve mental health support including their acknowledgement of particular challenges that impact older people’s mental wellbeing, and their recognition of the inequalities that certain communities face. However, this consultation is only a starting point.
“It is essential the Government play a leading role in tackling the barriers that prevent those in later life receiving this vital support, including doing more to challenge the stigma surrounding mental health, as we know this can stop some older people from accessing support.
“If the Government wants to get serious about mental health throughout the life, it needs to treat it with the same urgency as it does physical health. We would like to see more public awareness and information campaigns representing people in later life, as well as training for healthcare practitioners to talk confidently and sensitively about mental.”