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Essex: Pledge to improve the identification and treatment of older people with depression in the county

PUBLISHED: 09:53 03 January 2014 | UPDATED: 11:21 03 January 2014

(c) Keith Brofsky

Health chiefs in Essex spoke of their determination last night to help improve the identification and treatment of depression in older people in the county.

The pledge was made as an annual report into health issues in the area revealed at least a quarter of people in residential homes in Essex in 2012 had the condition.

Evidence in the report also showed that people with depression were 40% more likely to be admitted to residential care.

Dr Mike Gogarty, Essex County Council’s director of public health, has suggested that public health funding could be used in a multi-agency approach to tackle mental health and depression issues.

He added: “The evidence suggests that the level of depression, if you really look closely, could be higher.

“What we are looking to do is work with the NHS to improve how well people with depression are identified. That could be through GPs and social workers to make sure that they then get the right treatment.

“I am very keen that we major on mental health and we will be looking at that closely.”

Dr Gogarty described the figure cited in the annual report for depression in residential homes as “the tip of the iceberg” and that there was likely to be many more people, both in homes and the community, with the condition.

The latest figures have been released ahead of Essex County Council’s health overview and scrutiny committee meeting, which is due to take place next week.

During the meeting, councillors are expected to be asked to agree to the exploration of initiatives to improve mental health, which will include the management of depression in older people.

In a report released ahead of the meeting, councillors have been told that improving the mental health of people in Essex will be a key priority in 2014/15.

The report added: “We also know many older people with depression go unnoticed and untreated.

“We will work with adult social care colleagues, CCGs and local GPs to improve identification and management.

“This might involve social workers and primary care workers using depression screening tools in agreed risk groups and encouraging better management.”

The health overview and scrutiny committee meeting will take place on January 8.

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