Feeling old and useless – the silent suffering of seniors dealing with mental health challenges

Mental health conditions do not discriminate, and they can affect anyone regardless of age. Based on the recent National Population Health Survey 2022 conducted by the Ministry of Health, older adults aged 60 to 74 are least willing to seek help from healthcare professionals and informal networks compared to younger age groups.

This reluctance to seek help or have a suitable avenue to express their emotional pain can lead to dire consequences, with a notable increase in suicide rates among older adults. 

Social isolation, fear of setbacks, low mental health literacy, as well as health and social struggles all heighten older adults’ risk of poor mental health. Assistant Professor Shou Yiyun, who is the Lead Scientist in the Health and Lifestyle Domain at the NUS Institute for the Public Understanding of Risk, Anna Szuecs, who is a Research Fellow from the NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine’s Division of Family Medicine, and Jared Ng, who is a Communications Manager at the NUS Institute for the Public Understanding of Risk, share how Singapore’s national preventive healthcare programme, Healthier SG, can include mental health services to provide older adults with the care they need and deserve. The authors also suggest that educational measures could help the public recognise signs of mental suffering in their older relatives, friends, and neighbours.

As Singapore’s ageing population grows, supporting older adults with mental health challenges becomes increasingly important for society's well-being.

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