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Mental health first aid for elderly


A specialised mental health first aid training course for families and carers living and working with older people has been launched in South Australia.

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An Older Person Mental Health First Aid showcase course was conducted in Adelaide last month. The course trains people to recognise and respond to mental health problems in older South Australians before they reach crisis point.

The SA Mental Health Commission has teamed up with Mental Health First Aid Australia to bring the course to South Australia. Two further showcase courses will be held in Port Lincoln and Mount Gambier next month.

The Minister for Mental Health and Wellbeing Stephen Wade welcomed the introduction of the course into SA: “People may know about physical health problems, but may not understand mental health. Learning the signs and symptoms of common mental health problems and identifying ways to support older people experiencing depression, anxiety, confusion, dementia and psychosis is important knowledge for community groups.”

Minister Wade said mental health problems were under-diagnosed and under-treated amongst older South Australians with symptoms of ill-health often dismissed and simply attributed to ‘old age’.

“An estimated 10-15 per cent of older people experience depression and 10 per cent experience anxiety, with rates of depression climbing to a concerning 35 per cent for those living in residential aged-care,” he said.

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