Developing the right skills to meet the mental health needs of older adults

Judith Anderson, Sancia West, David Lees, Michelle Cleary

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Mental health disorders amongst older populations have long been an under-recognised issue in the aged care sector. Older adults and those with mental health issues are at increased risk of poorer health outcomes globally (Stewart et al., 2021) with the World Health Organization identifying that 15% of adults aged 60 and over live with a mental disorder (World Health Organization, 2017). Meanwhile mental and neurological disorders account for 6.6% of the total disability among this age group. Mental health and wellbeing is as important to older people as to people at any other stage of life. The World Health Organization (2017) has noted that dementia, depression, and anxiety disorders all provide overlap between aged care and mental health. Loss of capacity and functional ability, bereavement, reduced socioeconomic circumstances, social isolation, changes to living arrangements and chronic physical health conditions can all negatively impact on the mental health of older people (Cleary et al., 2017; Maresova et al., 2019). Yet, health professionals and older people themselves often do not identify or address mental health problems. While nurses have always been vital to the provision of quality mental health and aged care, nursing must also be considered central to the limitations that have arisen over time within these sectors. In this column, we examine the constraints on both aged care nursing and mental health nursing, informed by the Australian experience, and the need to integrate these two often disparate arms of nursing care to effectively plan for the mental health needs of older people.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-3
JournalIssues in Mental Health Nursing
Publication statusPublished - 2022


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