Public hearings for the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System began in July, and Seniors Rights Victoria has made a formal submission on issues that affect clients and older Victorians more broadly.
The submission draws attention to the complex ways that mental health and elder abuse interact. Elder abuse can cause stress, depression and anxiety. At the same time, an older person experiencing mental illness may be more vulnerable to elder abuse, particularly if they are reliant on others for care and support. People who have experienced elder abuse may benefit from support including counselling or group therapy tailored to their needs and experiences.
Our submission also considered the position of older people who are caring for a family member with a mental illness. In what can be a difficult role, some ageing parents find themselves providing accommodation and care for an adult child who has an untreated or undiagnosed mental illness. Often, after trying many avenues to seek help for their adult child, older people in this caring role turn to us as a last resort, recognising that the situation is untenable for all concerned. We made recommendations about how the government can better support this group, protecting them from elder abuse and supporting their own mental health and wellbeing.