Depression and anxiety are common in older adults but are often under-diagnosed in primary care. They cause considerable suffering for the individual and families, poorer outcomes for physical health problems, higher rates of referrals to social care services, and are risk factors for suicide. Older adults attend regularly for physical health problems such as frailty and long-term conditions (LTCs). Primary care therefore plays an important role in detecting and treating mental health problems.
To support GPs’ and primary healthcare professionals’ diagnosis and management of common mental health problems in older people, a comprehensive guide - Mental Health in Older People: A Practice Primer - has been published by NHS England and NHS Improvement. All of the tips in this document should be read in conjunction with the Practice Primer.