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Investment in older people’s mental health not matching demand, leading charity tells Welsh Government

12 Jun 2024 2 minute read
Old woman’s hands tucked between her legs by Horia Varlan is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

The current levels of investment in older people’s mental health and wellbeing in Wales are not meeting needs, according to Age Cymru.

In its response to a Welsh Government consultation, the charity called for a clearer focus on older people’s mental health backed by adequate and sustainable funding.

According to the charity, 22% of men and 28% of women over 65 live with depression, while    30% of older carers experience depression at some point. Older people experiencing bereavement are also four times more likely to develop depression

National survey

Age Cymru’s 2024 national survey found that older people with physical and mobility challenges were 70% more likely to experience poor mental health and 40% of older people living in care homes live with depression.

Age Cymru’s head of policy Heather Ferguson says “We need to understand why older people aren’t accessing the help they need when they need it.

“We very much welcome the identification of older people as a group requiring specific support to protect their mental health and wellbeing in these consultations and we hope it will shine an overdue spotlight on older people’s mental health needs in Wales.

“Older adult mental health support has been overlooked for many years, and we know that older people can face multiple barriers to gaining the support they might need.

“As we age factors impacting on poor mental health increase. For example, the longer people live the more likely they are to experience the loss of family and friends, become more socially isolated and lonely, become targeted by abusers and criminal fraudsters and take on difficult caring responsibilities.”

Ageist attitudes

The charity is also calling on the Welsh Government to support the combatting of societal ageist attitudes around mental health, that assume that poor mental health is simply a part of ageing.  These stereotypes can lead to a lack of focus on mental health services for older people and can also prevent people from reaching out for help when they need it.

The charity was responding to the Welsh Government’s Draft Mental Health & Wellbeing Strategy 2024-2034 and Draft Suicide and Self-harm Prevention Strategy 2024-2034 consultations.

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