Older people urged to focus on mental health

Older people urged to focus on mental health

01 October, 2019

Older people are reminded to care for their mental health this International Day for Older Persons on 1 October. 

Eastern Melbourne Primary Health Network (EMPHN) funds services to support older people’s mental health such as the Supporting Mental Health Care for Older People in Primary Care Pilot at Eastern Health which builds the capacity of general practitioners (GPs) and nurses to better identify and manage mental health challenges in older people. 

EMPHN Acting CEO James Scott said more than 22 per cent of people aged 65 years and over presenting to general practices in our community have active mental health problems, however, we know the problem is probably greater as this age group are less likely to seek treatment for mental health concerns. 

”Support doesn’t have to come from traditional mental health services. The key factors in enhancing and maintaining older people’s mental health and wellbeing are healthy lifestyles, social connection and a sense of purpose,” Mr Scott said. 

EMPHN’s Needs Assessment found 81 per cent of our older people don’t have daily contact with people outside their home.  

Untreated depression or anxiety can impact quality of life and contribute to increased suicide rates.  

Women aged 65 and over account for 14 per cent of all female suicides in Australia and men aged 85 and over are the most likely of any population group to take their own lives.  

Eastern Health’s Aged Persons Mental Health shares three tips to help older people remain healthy and connected. 

  1. Seek out and stay connected with past and current friends. Invite people over for a coffee or if you’re able to, go for a walk or do your grocery shopping together.

  2. Try a new hobby. Trying new things helps to stimulate the brain to stay sharp and avoid cognitive decline. Your council, local library, community health centre or neighbourhood house have great options to learn new skills and stay active and connected at the same time.

  3. Speak to your GP about your concerns. They’re a great first port of call to support you with your physical and mental health and can even refer you to local community groups. 

If you or someone you know might benefit from mental health support, contact EMPHN’s Referral and Access team on (03) 9800 1071 or visit www.emphn.org.au.

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 Media enquiries: Claire James claire.james@emphn.org.au 0425 887 397 

About EMPHN: Eastern Melbourne PHN is a Primary Health Network funded by the Australian Government to improve the care and support people receive from health services. We aim to improve the health of our community by ensuring people receive the right care, in the right place, at the right time. www.emphn.org.au