What we know
This topic focuses on mental illness or mental health disorders as distinct from the broader concept of mental health and wellbeing issues. Adults with a severe mental illness have been identified as a particularly vulnerable group. Approximately 10-15% of older Australians suffer from a mental illness, yet, it often goes unrecognised, meaning that relatively few older people with mental illness receive specialised treatment. Unrecognised and untreated mental illness in older adults is linked to disability, reduced quality of life, decreased adherence to treatments, other poor health outcomes and restricted use of available services. A variety of health care professionals deliver care and support to older people with mental illness. Timely referral to specialist mental health providers should be considered in cases of severe mental illness to help tailor interventions best suited to the person’s needs.