Ensuring older people’s mental health needs are heard

Older people’s mental health needs are specific and must be heard by the Victorian Royal Commission into Mental Health.

That is the view stressed by the National Ageing Research Institute in its submission into the Terms of Reference.

“The number of older Australians will almost double by 2055. Population ageing will see an increase in depression, anxiety, elder abuse and other mental illnesses in older adults. High rates of depression and anxiety are associated with increased physical illness, disability and self-neglect, suicidal ideation and mortality. More older men die by suicide than any other age group.,” Director Briony Dow said.

She warned, however, that because targeted support and resources for older adults is lacking, older people are losing out.

Associate Professor Briony Dow said NARI was very concerned about the serious gap in data and services for older adults with mental illness.

“The National Mental Health Commission contains almost no information on older adults, despite the prevalence and impact of mental health problems in this cohort,” she said.

“The Victorian Royal Commission has a real opportunity to take a leadership role to address this absence of engagement, understanding and support. Better understanding and flexible care and support services will benefit individuals, communities and health services,” she added.