A lack of awareness of mental health conditions among older people is leading a significant proportion of baby-boomers to neglect their wellbeing. Experts at Bupa UK are urging people to come forward early to improve support

The study, conducted by Bupa UK, revealed those aged 55 or older (baby-boomers) were the most likely age group to delay or avoid seeking medical help for mental health-related symptoms.

This is despite two thirds of over 55s suffering with symptoms associated with mental ill-health including feelings of anxiety, continuous low mood, feelings of hopelessness and insomnia.

The study revealed many people are keeping their problems entirely to themselves, with one in four (27%) telling no one at all about their symptoms. 33% reported confiding in a partner and 28% telling a friend. Less than half of older Brits surveyed reported consulting a doctor about their symptoms.

One in five (22%) think their symptoms don’t indicate anything serious

This is significantly lower than the younger generations, with 84% of 18 to 34 year olds telling at least one person, 43% telling a partner, and 50% telling their friends.

It is thought that this lack of action comes from a lack of awareness that these symptoms may be an indication of a mental health problem. One in five (22%) think that their symptoms “don’t indicate anything serious” while others said mental health “simply doesn’t affect me”.

Mental health awareness is improving generally, however, just one in three older Brits believe their knowledge has improved in the last 12 months.

The study revealed that less than one in three over 55s feel confident identifying symptoms of common mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety, compared to nearly half of 18 to 34 year olds. Even those who do seek help are delaying receiving support by an average of 50 days.

Following this data, Bupa mental health experts are calling for people to come forward as early as possible in order to receive the support they need. Early diagnosis is proven to significantly improve outcomes by aiding recovery, or educating and improving how a condition can be managed.

If you or a loved one is struggling with their mental health, it’s important to seek medical help.

Pablo Vandenabeele, Clinical Director for Mental Health at Bupa UK says: “It’s clear to see that awareness of mental health issues is improving, but more needs to be done to address information gaps to ensure that everyone feels confident in recognising and seeking help for a mental health concern.

“Mental health issues can affect us at any age and it’s important to seek support without delay, as early diagnosis and treatment can improve recovery rates.”

If you’re concerned about your mental health and want to talk to your GP but don’t know where to start, we have some guidance. Read our article, How To Navigate A Doctor’s Appointment For Mental Health.

Other articles you may find helpful include Anxiety - How Therapy Can Help and 5 Questions You Should Ask Yourself When Searching for a Counsellor.

If you are worried about your mental health, Counselling Directory can help. Search for therapists in your area by entering your location in the box below.