Skip to main content

For the full experience please download a modern browser. Click here to find a modern browser or discuss with your IT department.

Older persons' mental health and addiction - what do we know?

In 2019, Te Pou authored a report for the older persons mental health and addiction sector, Working with older people: Mental health and addiction workforce development priorities, which included 12 workforce development recommendations including the opportunity to come together, share innovations and create collegial connections and support.

A lunchtime virtual session, held on 30 November, explored data and information about the mental health and substance use of older adults. Dr Ruth Cunningham (Epidemiologist, Dept of Public Health Otago University) and Assoc Professor Andy Towers (Mental Health and Addiction Programme Massey University) both presented some impactful information relating to depression and loneliness, alcohol and drug use, and portrayed the need for consistently captured data. See their presentations and slides here.

Phil Grady, Acting Deputy Director-General of Mental Health, Ministry of Health, affirmed the connection of the older persons’ mental health and addiction sector with the Ministry through the new Systems and Services Framework consultation, which captures the life course of our population including older adults. Phil acknowledges workforce pressures across the system and is keen to work closely with the older persons’ sector. Phil also acknowledged the variation of data collection across the country and the opportunity to create more consistency.

The session was attended by 76 people. Post-session feedback identified the following:

82% said the information presented in the sessions was useful and 100% said they are keen to see future sessions.

Of the priorities recommended by the speakers relating to data collection, 94% of respondents agreed the top priorities are:

  • consistent data collection about service delivery for older adults including considering changing needs with age
  • increased workforce capability in preparation for older adults with mental health and addiction accessing services
  • future themes for these connection opportunities include: Older adults who have long-term mental health or addiction problems, further discussion on data and information, young onset dementia, Māori wellbeing, lived experience, intellectual disability and ageing

When offered future topics for connecting, the sector additionally highlighted:.

  • equity and older people
  • sleep disorders among older people
  • undiagnosed mental health problems in residential or nursing home care.

The Planning Group will take these ideas to further plan the face-to-face symposium in Auckland which is already full. For any enquiries contact