Age UK has written an open letter to the NHS to encourage GPs to prescribe talking services to older patients with mental health issues, rather than offer them medication.

It starts:

One in five over-65s living in the community are affected by depression but, despite Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) services being open to all adults, older people are underrepresented amongst those accessing services.

According to NHS figures only 6.4% of people referred to NHS psychological therapies were over 65 despite making up 18% of the population. Research also shows that older people were 6 times more likely to be on medication to treat their mental or emotional problem compared to other age groups.


The letter goes on to explain the issue in more depth, before calling on GPs and healthcare professionals to

  • Start the conversation about depression and anxiety with the older people you see
  • Think twice before offering medication to treat depression and anxiety in older people as a first-line treatment option,
  • And, refer more older people to NHS psychological therapy services without age restrictions.


You can read the full letter on the Age UK website, where there is also information about  a multi-agency campaign to urge older people to ditch the ‘stiff upper lip’ to mental ill health, and seek help if they need it.