One in three people over the age of 50 experience mental illness

A significant number of adults over the age of 50 suffer from mental health issues, new research has revealed.

The study, published by products and services provider Saga, involved the analysis of more than 10,000 of its members.

It found that around one third of those surveyed had experienced mental health issues during their lifetime, while one in five report that their mental wellbeing has declined as they have got older.

According to the research, the most common ‘triggers’ for mental health symptoms include the loss of a loved one (35 per cent), loneliness (31 per cent), not feeling like themselves (28 per cent) and a lack of identity (24 per cent) – commonly conceived by leaving the workplace.

The study also revealed that men are less likely to talk about mental health issues, which may result in symptoms worsening. This is after 38 per cent of female respondents said they were likely to “admit to” a mental health disorder, compared to 27 per cent of males.

Commenting on the findings, Kevin McMullan, Head of Health Insurance for Saga, said: “Talking about mental health issues is clearly something that many people still shy away from and it is important to remember that mental health is just as important as physical health.

“With one in five of our members telling us that their mental health has declined as they got older it has never been more important for people to have the support they need in the way they need it. In fact, for many spending more time with family and friends can be all the support they need. However, it’s clear that for some the usual routes to seek support simply don’t work for them.”

The study comes shortly after the Chancellor Philip Hammond announced a £2 billion real-terms increase in mental health funding in his most recent Autumn Budget. As part of this measure, the Government hopes to counter loneliness with ‘social prescribing’ – referring individuals to activities and events such as community and health and fitness programmes.

 

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