According to the research, which involved more than 10,000 Saga members aged over 50, one-third reported that they had experienced mental health issues during their lifetime, and one in five reported that their mental wellbeing has declined as they have got older. The most common triggers for mental health problems were found to be grief from 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) brought about by leaving the workplace.
The research also found that younger people and women are more likely to discuss mental health issues; 46 per cent of 50-59-year olds said they are likely to report having experienced a mental health issue in their life, compared with 20 per cent of 80-89-year olds. Thirty-eight per cent of female respondents said that they were likely to admit they had experienced a mental health issue compared with 27 per cent of men.
Kevin McMullan, Head of Health Insurance for Saga, commented: “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.”
Saga has launched a new Stronger Minds service as part of its Super Health PMI Plan, which currently covers inpatient and outpatient mental health treatment. “Our service has been launched to compliment the work done by our health services in providing the necessary support required by those with mental health issues,” McMullan said. “For some, the first step is often the hardest and having to confide in their GP and then suffer the lengthy wait for a referral can often be just the excuse they need not to reach out for help. We’re hoping that being able to bypass this step in the process will ensure more people can get the help they need so that they can continue to do the things they love.”