This year’s theme for Mental Health Awareness Week theme is “Nature is Key”
It is estimated that over 20% of adults aged 60 and over suffer from a mental or neurological disorder. 6.6% of all disability among over 60s are attributed to neurological and mental disorders. The most common neuropsychiatric disorders in this age group are dementia and depression. Anxiety disorders affect 3.8% of the older population, substance use problems affect almost 1% however, substance abuse problems are often overlooked or misdiagnosed. Around a quarter of deaths from self-harm are among those aged 60 or above.
Unfortunately like all age groups, the stigma surrounding mental illness makes people more reluctant to seek help resulting in mental health problems being under-identified by health-care professionals and older people themselves.
Multiple social, psychological, and biological factors determine the level of mental health of a person at any point of time. Older adults are more likely to experience significant life stressors than other age groups. This includes bereavement, a drop in socioeconomic status with retirement, or a disability. Older adults are also more likely to lose their ability to live independently because of limited mobility, chronic pain, frailty or other physical problems. All of these factors can result in isolation, loss of independence, loneliness and psychological distress in older people.
Mental health has an impact on physical health and vice versa. For example, older adults with physical health conditions such as heart disease have higher rates of depression than those who are medically well. Conversely, untreated depression in an older person with heart disease can negatively affect the outcome of the physical disease.
Older adults are also vulnerable to elder abuse – including physical, sexual, psychological, emotional, financial and material abuse; abandonment; neglect; and serious losses of dignity and respect. Current evidence suggests that 1 in 10 older people experience elder abuse. Elder abuse can lead not only to physical injuries, but also to serious, sometimes long-lasting psychological consequences, including depression and anxiety.
If you begin to feel down or not like yourself, do not hesitate to reach out to to someone. You are worthy of help and there are always people who are willing to listen to you.
Depression Helpline: 0800 111 757 (available 25/7)
You can also text 4202 or email via their website
If someone does make comments about wanting to hurt or kill themselves, these should be taken seriously and emergency services or mental health services should be contacted immediately.
Crisis assessment and treatment teams provide 24-hour, seven-days-a-week assessment and short-term treatment services for people experiencing a serious mental health crisis. Contact your local Mental Health Services immediately.