New online resources for older adults struggling with mental illness
MindEd for Older People is a new online educational resource that explains a range of mental illnesses commonly experienced by older people, and offers practical advice for dealing with them.
A team of older people and professionals are the authors behind the new MindEd resources which cover a range of common problems such as insomnia, depression, medications to be aware of, anxiety and alcohol-related problems.
The resources are a vital crutch at a time when demand for mental health services is increasing whilst supply of the mental health workforce for older people is falling. The number of Old Age psychiatrists has declined 8.5% since November 2013.
MindEd for Older People aims to equip older adults, families worried about their older relatives, and professionals and volunteers working with older people, with the necessary information to manage their mental health needs.
In the community, 1 in 5 older people have depression, whilst the condition affects 40% of those in care homes. It was also revealed last month by Public Health England that 30% of all hospital admissions in 2016-17 were for alcohol related illnesses in the over 65s. The mental health risks of a growing older population have become increasingly apparent.
In 2015-16, just 6 per cent of referrals to Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) were for people over 65.
Families caring for the older generation need simple, clear, free, accessible advice written by experts that they can use online, on phones and tablets, without stigma or ‘referral’.
While there are many online educational mental health resources, the Royal College of Psychiatrists says there must be more support to recognise mental health conditions specifically in older people to prevent wrongly attributing symptoms of mental illness to ‘old age’.
Dr Amanda Thompsell, chair of the old age psychiatry faculty at the Royal College of Psychiatrists said:
“Older people are affected by mental health problems but experience them very differently to the rest of the adult population. Multiple physical illness or the side effects of medicine are more likely to result in mental ill health.
“But conditions like depression are highly treatable and no patient should be left to suffer simply because they are ‘old’. MindEd for Older People sends the right message that older people have a right to have a good quality of life and that there is support out there.”
Keith Chambers, Programme Manager for MindEd for Families said:
“We are delighted to build on the success of our existing site and launch these new resources for older people.
“Working with older people to produce these resources was vitally important to us to ensure they were accessible. There is a growing need for information like this and we hope that older people struggling with their mental health, or families worried about a loved one, will be able to get the support they need from MindEd.”