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Later life Report

21st July 2006

01052006_malefemaleinternet1.jpg'Promoting mental health and well-being in later life', a report from a 3 year independent Inquiry into mental health and well-being in later life, says that over three million pensioners are set to experience mental health problems by 2021 unless action is taken to promote good mental health and well-being for older people.

The figures show that if poor mental health rates remain the same in 15 years three million over 65s will experience poor mental health. Many over 65 year olds are experiencing mental health problems as a result of age discrimination, loneliness, poverty, and poor physical health.

The report says that action is needed to remove the barriers that prevent older people from participating in society. It recommends that local authorities take a lead role in partnership with the NHS, business representatives, voluntary organisations, community groups and with individuals to develop programmes that promote positive mental health and well-being in later life.

Local authorities could fund or establish programmes which have been shown to improve older people’s physical health. 'Ageing Well', for example, is a peer to peer mentoring scheme that helps older people lead healthier lives. The report says that this could be expanded to explicitly address mental health and well-being. 

Chairman of the Inquiry, Dr June Crown, said that the mental health and well-being of older people has been neglected for too long. She added "The report clearly shows what needs to be done" saying that everyone - national and local government, business, communities, and individuals, need to play a part in promoting positive mental health and well-being and valuing the contribution of older people.

Director General of Age Concern, Gordon Lishman, said that it is significant that older people themselves highlighted that age discrimination plays a role in poor mental health. Age discrimination has been tolerated for too long, he added, and the report shows that this is denying older people the chance to enjoy later life.

Chief Executive, Mental Health Foundation, Andrew McCulloch, said that “The mental health of older people has been neglected across the spectrum of promotion, prevention and treatment services. Older people simply aren’t receiving the priority they deserve.��?

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