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Elder abuse, mental health and wellbeing

In 2021, following a Royal Commission, the Victorian Government committed to overhauling the state’s mental health system, acknowledging that it was failing to support those who needed it. Seniors Rights Victoria, a program of COTA Victoria, was relieved to learn the government would be taking action in an area where there was such a clear need.

SRV supports the Commission’s recommendations to move away from a medical model and towards an increased use of therapy alternatives. We are hopeful that the reforms will properly consider, through consultation, the experiences and needs of older people and how counselling, peer support groups and social prescribing may provide better treatment options.

Older people are just one of the many cohorts of people who will benefit from a better resourced and vastly improved mental health system. To support these reforms, SRV released a discussion paper about the ways elder abuse and mental ill health interact. You can read the paper here.

Seniors Rights Victoria and Elder Abuse Action Australia hosted a webinar on older people and mental health on 30th November 2021. You can watch the recording here.

SRV often assists clients who are addressing elder abuse while also experiencing mental ill health, or caring for someone with mental illness. The service sees mental health and elder abuse intersect in three main ways:

  • Clients report that the stressful and traumatic experience of elder abuse can leave them feeling depressed and anxious, and make it difficult to maintain wellbeing.
  • An older person’s existing mental health challenges can lead to a higher risk of experiencing elder abuse, particularly if they are dependent on others for care or they have a cognitive impairment that affects their decision-making ability.
  • Over a 7-year period, almost one-third of SRV advice clients reported that the person perpetrating abuse against them was experiencing mental health issues. 
Call
If you, or someone you know is experiencing elder abuse, help is available through our confidential helpline on 1300 368 821. If it is an emergency, call 000.
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