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Thousands of overs 65s denied mental health services


Tens of thousands of people over the age of 65 are being denied access to specialist mental health services because of ‘arbitrary’ age limits, the Royal College of Psychiatrists says.

The report, published by the Royal College of Psychiatrists, suggests that older people missing out on vital support and risking serious deterioration in their mental health.

Over-65s are also denied access to a range of services available to younger adults, including psychological therapies, early intervention, rehabilitation and addiction services.

The Royal College of Psychiatrists has called on mental health services to abolish the arbitrary age limit on adult mental health services.

Dr Dave Anderson, chair of the College’s Faculty of Old Age Psychiatry, said: “If we are to meet the pressing challenge of an ageing population we must remove the barrier that is age discrimination. There is no justifiable reason why an older person with the same need as a younger person is denied equitable mental health care, yet that is the current position.”

But Dr Anderson warned: “If services are to be provided on the basis of need not age, we must guarantee that the different needs of older people are understood and addressed by services specially designed to meet that need. If this doesn’t happen, age discrimination will continue in another guise. Equality is not achieved by treating all people in the same way but by respecting their differences. We believe this policy statement provides positive action and a responsible solution to this very important problem.”


Readers' comments (6)

  • i totally agree, i work with the over sixty five and it is sad to see that they do not have as much input as the younger patients. it is my believe if they had as much input it would reduce admission of long standing and endurng mental health patients

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  • Now I am confused, Do we provide one service fits all in order to not discriminate?
    Do we provide a specialist service for the older client, this is what we have just done away with.
    The statement seems to argue both ways or it just me getting older and more confused by the day.

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  • Strange that the college has come up with this statement, as it is our consultants who are the most opposed to getting rid of the arbitrary age limit.

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  • There is also the problem that for adults over 65,mental health teams are not linked to the social care component in the same way that mental health teams for 'working age' adults are. Perhaps this raises the more fundamental question of how we support the mental health needs of an ageing population. Working in a service that has no upper age limit does pose it's own difficulties but this should be viewed as an opportunity for mental health professionals to come together and work for a common aim of better mental health care for all,regardless of age.

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  • The 65 yr-old cut off becomes increasingly arbitrary as life expectancy and, as now suggested, retirement age increase. I remember several years ago the criteria for a Medicine for the Elderly bed in my acute trust was changed from age-related to multiple co-morbidities/polypharmacy/complex discharge .... (i.e. their areas of expertise) & a 90-yr old with a single problem was admitted to medicine/relevant speciality. How come RCPsych/MH services so far behind - is it that much harder?

    Re: link to social care component - I feel that's a locality issue. In my area, the links are far better for over-65s, and seemingly impossible to access for working age unless children involved.

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  • why does the recent age discrimination act only relate to employment? In my view it should relate to all aspects of life. One has needs at all ages as well as the right to respect.

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