Campaign launches in Sussex to raise awareness of self-harm and suicide in older people

The campaign launched by Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust - ‘Don’t brush it under the carpet’ aims to reach and support older people who may be feeling depressed and alone and guide them to the right support.

The campaign also aims to raise awareness of the issue of self-harm and older people, amongst carers, family members and health professionals to enable them to support someone they know who may be struggling.

Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust provides mental health, learning disability and neurodevelopmental services to people living in the south east. The NHS trust has been working in collaboration with partner NHS trust's, local authorities and local voluntary community and social enterprise (VCSE) organisations to develop the 'Don't brush it under the carpet' awareness campaign.

The campaign is themed around common phrases and sayings that older people would be familiar with and relate to including 'don’t brush it under the carpet' and 'a problem shared is a problem halved'.

Dr Padmaprabha Dalby, Clinical Director at Sussex Partnership, said:

"We want older people and their families to realise that emotional wellbeing difficulties can really affect anyone and there's no shame in asking for help. Worries, low mood or depression can creep up on us and lead to poor sleep, lost appetite, feeling lethargic or unmotivated, avoiding things that used to be enjoyable and finding it harder to cope with physical health conditions or pain. This isn't something you have to be resigned to and there are treatments and support available."

Reaching out for support from family, friends or professionals can make a huge difference, including, in some cases, preventing self-harm or suicide. Many older people find it very difficult to discuss their mental health but there is still a significant need. According to data extracted by Age UK, in people over 65:

  • Over half a million (579,803) experience anxiety disorder
  • Just under half a million (487,100) experience a major depressive disorder
  • Just under 200,000 (191,740) experience chronic depressive disorder.

Helen Rice, CEO at Age UK West Sussex, Brighton and Hove said:

“We are very concerned about older people’s mental health at the moment. The cost-of-living crisis is hitting older people hard, and it could be another bleak winter for many as they struggle to make ends meet. Loneliness can also be a factor, as getting out and about can be more difficult in colder weather. We want to urge anyone who is feeling anxious, lonely or depressed to talk to their GP or someone they trust. There is help out there and often the first step towards feeling better is having a conversation.”

You can find out more about the campaign and the support available on the campaign webpage.

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