Government must address unmet mental health needs of older persons – McGuinness

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Sinn Féin Councillor Conor D. McGuinness has said that Ireland is heading towards an “unprecedented mental health crisis for older people”, with existing services for the elderly “under resourced, inadequate and not connected with each other”.

Speaking after a publication of a report “Mental Health Services for Older Persons” by the Mental Health Commission, Cllr McGuinness said:

“I welcome the report  published this morning by Dr Susan Finnerty of the Mental Health Commission, as it is a road map for the provision of comprehensive mental health services for the elderly.

“Ireland is heading for an unprecedented mental health crisis for older people with existing services for the elderly under resourced, inadequate and not integrated with each other.

“Dr Susan Finnerty, also describes Covid-19 as a ‘perfect storm’ in which elderly people already failed by existing healthcare services now face more risks from the disease.

“The report highlights population projections showing that the number of people aged 65 years and over will increase from 629,800 in 2016, to almost 1.6 million by 2051, which in turn will lead to increased pressure on the health system.

“About 15% of adults aged 60 and above suffer from a mental illness, and physical illness is also more common.

“Older people’s mental health is not getting the attention it deserves. The levels of unmet mental health needs amongst older people continue to be extremely high and it has never been more important to improve access to services.

“There are a number of recommendations in this report that highlight the need for services for older people to be more integrated, properly resourced, staffed and to be older person specific.

“I will be raising these issues with HSE management regionally and Sinn Féin spokesperson on Mental Health TD Mark Ward has committed to raise them in the Dáil.”

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