Why older people with depression are less likely to be referred for treatment

older people depression less likely mental health treatment
(Image credit: Getty)

A study has found that older people with depression are less likely to be referred for treatment.

New research by SunLife found that only 6 per cent of older people with depression currently end up being referred to mental health services, while with younger people up 50 per cent of sufferers end up being referred.

And the study found that one of biggest reasons for older people’s mental health problems was that they were lonely.

According to the research, 25 per cent of those aged 55 or over are lonely at times while nearly a third a lonely all of the time.

MORE: What to do if coronavirus anxiety is affecting your mental health

One in 12 also said that they have become lonelier since passing their 50th birthdays.

The research found that 19 per cent of people over 50 live alone while the number rises to more than a quarter for those over 65 years old.

“Our research shows that the older we get, the more prone we can become to emotional and mental well-being challenges,” said Ian Atkinson, marketing director at SunLife.

older people depression less likely mental health treatment

“This is because there are a number of changes in life that can have an impact such as children leaving home and stopping working, as well as the fact that people over 50 are less likely to talk about how they’re feeling and therefore less likely to get the help and support they need.

“As we get older there are lots of things we can do to help our mental well-being, such as ensuring we are doing enough physical activity, eating well, getting enough sleep and creating opportunities to connect with other people.

MORE: Why the NHS is prescribing books to help with mental health

“Our blog – It’s time to talk about mental health, explains more about mental health in older age, with advice about how to spot that you or someone you know may be struggling, and what older people can do to improve their mental health.”

If you are in need of mental health advice visit the NHS website for guidance.

Aleesha Badkar
Aleesha Badkar

Aleesha is digital shopping writer at woman&home - so whether you're looking for beauty, fashion, health or home buys, she knows all the best places to splash your cash. She earned an MA in Magazine Journalism from City, University of London in 2017 after graduating from University of Leeds in 2014 with a BA in English and Spanish (which took her to Madrid for a fun Rioja and tapas-packed year). Aleesha has worked for woman&home since 2019, when she joined the team as their digital news writer. A year on the news team gained her quick and reactive writing skills and a love for breaking stories, invaluable insight into where to get the best lifestyle releases first, an AOP awards nomination and the nickname ‘crazy watch lady’ after she became so obsessed with the royals that she followed breaking news alerts on her Apple Watch.


Before joining the woman&home team, Aleesha wrote for their sister site GoodtoKnow, where she covered celebrity news, health advice and where to snap up the cheapest lifestyle buys. With a background in beauty, Aleesha has also written for Stylist and Women’s Health where she developed an understanding into what makes a stellar product and which brands are worth paying attention to. She never leaves the house without a slick of lip balm and a good slathering of SPF, cannot live without an eyelash curler by her side and is always on the hunt for new lipsticks to add to her ‘Lipstick of the Day’ Instagram story highlight (and color-coordinated collection).

But it’s not just beauty buys Aleesha can help you with. Social media savviness, strong PR relationships and a need to stay in the know mean she’s all about the latest fashions, clever gadgets and reliable lifestyle buys too. She loves indulging in an interior craze (with a bedroom drowned in prints, plants and pink), is a regular visitor to the Missoma and Edge of Ember 'New In' pages and can’t resist the allure of a kitchen gadget—just ask her three coffee machines.

When she’s not playing around with new products and testing anything she can get her hands on, Aleesha spends most of her time with her head in a current bestseller, catching up on the latest Netflix craze with her sister, trying out new recipes, drinking wine with her bestie and (in non-COVID times) has been known to be a bit of a jetsetter amongst her friendship group. Oh and she makes the most of her Disney+ subscription by watching the Marvel films on repeat (definitely not just for Chris Evans...).

Follow her latest shopping & lifestyle advice, beauty insights and social antics on Instagram at @aleeshabadkar.


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Email: aleesha.badkar@futurenet.com