Top tips: Diagnosis and management of common mental health problems in older people

GP talking to older female patient

Mental health problems are as common in older adults as they are in younger adults. They are associated with considerable individual suffering, suicide, higher use of health and social care services, and poorer outcomes for physical illness. 

Older adults are less likely to seek and receive the help they need for mental health problems. This affects quality of life, worsens physical health conditions, and increases mortality. Older people have higher rates of primary care contacts than other patient groups, which means that primary care professionals usually know their older patients well. The primary healthcare team (PHCT) is well placed to discern changes in appearance, behaviour, affect or manner.

The RCGP together with the Royal College of Nurses, Age UK and NHS England, have produced a ‘Top tips: Diagnosis and management of common mental health problems in older people’ to support GPs and primary care professionals to diagnose common mental health problems in older people. These Top Tips should be used in conjunction with the ‘Mental Health in Older People: A Practice Primer’ published by NHS England and NHS Improvement.

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