Mental Health Inequalities: Older People

I recently published the following article:

  • Davies, NJ (2011) Inequalities in healthcare provision for older adults.  Nursing Standard, 25(41), pp.49-55.

With the percentage of the population aged 65-years and over increasing from 15% in 1984 to 16% in 2009 (ONS, 2010) and a projection of this reaching 23% by 2034, there is a clear need to examine the healthcare of older people.  Indeed, some of the statistics I came across when researching this article were alarming, particularly in terms of mental health.

There are huge inequalities in mental health care for older people.  An Inquiry by Age Concern revealed that over 3.5 million older people experience mental health problems (Lee, 2007). Undiagnosed depression is a particular problem, with a quarter of people aged 65-years and over having symptoms of depression; only half of these are diagnosed, shedding light on how many are getting the support they need – not many.  Indeed, the Royal College of Psychiatrists has estimated that 85% of older people with depression don’t receive any NHS help.  This makes me cringe.

Hopefully, with changes that have been made to The Equality Act 2010, in the near future such inequalities will no longer be the norm.


  1. Lee (2007) Improving services and support for older people with mental health problems. The second report from the UK Inquiry into Mental Health and Well-Being in Later Life. Age Concern England.
  2. Office for National Statistics (2010) Ageing – Fastest Increase in the ‘Oldest Old’ ONS. . London. (Last accessed: February 22 2010.)

Categories: Health, Nursing


2 replies

  1. Dr. Davies, Thank you for pointing out this gaping need for mental health equality for older people. My mother was recently diagnosed with Very Late Onset Schizophrenia. I live in the USA and finding dedicated support for her has been difficult. I fear we are in for a true crisis if we continue to devalue the elderly and not address their mental health needs. Again, thank you for raising awareness.

  2. Dan, I am sorry to hear of your plight. We mustn’t forget the families involved in this situation either, and the stress and heartache they endure. I wrote this post in 2011, but unfortunately I don’t think much has changed since then – not for the positive anyway.

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