The mental health of older people is often overlooked, with much depression and anxiety in older adults across the UK unrecognised, undiagnosed and untreated. Research shows that the likelihood of being prescribed medication and not referred to therapy increases with age.

We believe that age should not be a barrier to receiving treatment and support whenever it is needed and that’s why we have developed our older people strategy.

Working with BACP members, a range of partner organisations and across the full range of BACP functions, we are exploring ways to:

  1. increase the numbers of older people who access therapy
  2. increase the availability and provision of counselling to older people

We’re taking a broad view of the definition of ‘older people’ and are focusing on the life events and transitions that happen more frequently (though not exclusively) to people aged 50+. This covers a large number of issues, age-ranges and experiences, including long-term conditions, end of life and bereavement.

Updates - September 2018

Future of social care

As frustration grows at the further delays in the publication of the government’s green paper on the future of social care in England, we've been taking a keen interest in the growing momentum for radical action to address the care needs of the ageing population.

At this month's Age UK conference, amidst calls for greater leadership, investment and integration between health and social care services, Caroline Dinenage MP,  Minister of State for Care, assured delegates that the green paper will be published ‘in the Autumn’. She indicated that publication is likely to coincide with the publication of the NHS 10-year spending plan (see our response to the consultation on mental health priorities below). In response to a question from the conference floor, Ms Dinenage confirmed that ‘wellbeing is a critical part of social care’.

The full extent of the costs of meeting the social care needs of an ageing population have been set out in a new report. A Taxing Question: How to pay for free personal care, published by Independent Age, provides comparative costs of funding care and calls for political parties to accept the social justice arguments for free personal care and the tax increases required to adequately deliver good quality care to all who need it.

NHS 10-Year Plan

We've responded to NHS England’s call to identify priority areas in the 10-year plan for mental health spending. We've called for a full choice of evidence-based talking therapies to be offered to all who need them and that particular priority should be given to older adults whose mental health needs are overlooked, under-diagnosed and under-treated.

Promoting working with older people to BACP members

We're still inviting members to join our older people expert reference group to support our work to increase access and provision of therapy to older people. If you're interested, please register through the BACP volunteers scheme.


If you would like to share your experience on working with older people or to receive a bi-monthly update on the work within the BACP older people strategy, please email