Older people in Wales with serious mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are very concerned about the loneliness and isolation they experience, a new report has found.
In a survey of more than 150 people about problems facing older people in Wales with a mental illness for ‘The Lost Generation?’, published by the High Needs Collaborative, 53% of respondents said loneliness and isolation was the issue of most concern to them.
Frank Kitt, a campaigner and spokesperson for the research, said: “I’ve experienced mental illness myself and now work to support others to achieve recovery and a good quality of life.
“I’m afraid the research conducted by the High Needs Collaborative this year didn't reveal a very happy story: we found a group of people who are often very lonely and isolated and don’t feel well supported.
“As a result we are calling for opportunities for social contact and mutual support for older people with a mental illness and their carers to be made available in all parts of Wales – through befriending schemes, mutual support groups and carer groups, etc.
“And we would like a new standard for Care and Treatment Plans where specific actions on loneliness and social life for the lost generation are always recorded under the 'Social, cultural and spiritual' heading."
The High Needs Collaborative is an alliance of voluntary organisations that aim to support the recovery of people with a serious mental illness in Wales. The research into older people's experiences was supported by Welsh mental health charity Hafal in partnership with Bipolar UK, Diverse Cymru and Crossroads Care Mid & West Wales.
The research also found that getting the correct medical and other treatments for mental illness is seen as a key challenge by older people, and that other areas of concern are ‘personal and physical care’, ‘finance and money’, and ‘accommodation’.