A new Age UK report ‘Hidden in Plain Sight: the Unmet Health Needs of Older People’ shows that the current and future needs of our rapidly ageing population are not being met.
- There are currently 3 million people over the age of 60 living with depression in the UK.
- That figure is set to increase by a third over the next 15 years to 4.3 million.
- In 2008 the NHS set up its IAPT Programme (Improving Access to Psychological Therapies) to help people with mental health issues access psychotherapy. Its target was to ensure that 12% of its referrals were older people.
- The IAPT Programme has missed this modest target by well over half and Age UK estimates it will take a generation, until 2031, before the target is met.
- Only 1 in 3 of Mental Health Trusts in England have no policies for integrated care for people over 65 with mental and physical health needs.
Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK, said: “Unfortunately our research makes it hard to avoid the conclusion that older people are routinely seen as ‘second class citizens’ by our mental health services…. This is extraordinary and frankly it is also completely unacceptable in the twenty first century. We understand the acute pressures on mental health services but they do not justify what look to us like engrained, systemic failings so far as older people are concerned.
“Whatever the underlying reasons for such poor performance – and some will say it is ageism, no more, no less – it is certainly time for our mental health services to up their game when it comes to helping older people, and we look to NHS England to provide the strongest possible lead.”
The shocking report is published today and Age UK makes several tough recommendations to the NHS and local authorities, including:
- Local health authorities should consider implementing older mental health care champions
- Local health and care commissioners should better understand the mental health conditions of the older generation in their areas
- NHS England must strengthen and expand its work with the voluntary sector
- NHS Digital should consider further analysis of data about older people’s access to healthcare
We are very interested in hearing your stories:
Are you someone who has suffered from depression or a similar illness and not received the help you needed?
Are you struggling to find help for an elderly parent or relative with mental health issues?
We’d like to help Age UK put pressure on local government and the NHS to prioritise the mental being of older people so please write to us at [email protected]