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Elderly with mental health issues discriminated against

10th October 2005

Elderly people with mental health issues are being discriminated against and face poor services, according to a new report from a leading mental health charity.

Released by Mind for World Mental Health Day, the survey highlights cut-off services, a lack of treatment choice, age discrimination by GPs and the high rate of suicide experienced by older people.

Researching into older people's experiences of mental health services, the report also shows that the NSF for Older People, who is responsible for dealing with those over 65, does not meet mental health requirements mainly due to lack of ring-fenced funds.

The report said the current funding situation meant older people's mental health needs were not being dealt with.

It revealed access to services was currently difficult and said there is a complete lack of mental health promotion activity for the over-65 age group.

One major promotional flaw was the lack of suicide prevention for older people, with the Government's NSF for Older People not even mentioning suicide - despite one-third of all self-deaths occurring in the over-55 age group.

Richard Brook, chief executive of Mind, said: "Access all ages highlights the shameful neglect of this vulnerable and often isolated group of people. The sudden removal of services and treatment at the age of 65 clearly causes great distress to many people - this unfair discrimination must be removed.

"Some GPs provide excellent support to older people, but too many health professionals do not yet receive the training to identify and deal with the growing mental health problems older people face. And it is crucial that for them, just like anyone else, treatment choice should be a right, not a gamble."