Objectives: Unmet mental health care needs of older people (aged 65 and over) have been identified as a serious problem internationally, particularly in rural areas. In this study we explored the views of health and social care providers of the barriers to effective mental health care for older people in a rural region in Australia.Method: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 19 participants from 13 organisations providing care and support to older people in a rural region of Australia. A framework analysis approach was used to thematically analyse the data.Results: Two main themes were identified: Recognising the Problem and Service Availability and Access. In particular the participants identified the impact of the attitudes of older people and health professionals, as well as service inadequacies and gaps in services, on the provision of mental health care to older people in a rural region.Conclusion: This study supports previous work on intrinsic and extrinsic barriers to older people with mental health problems accessing mental health services. The study also offers new insight into the difficulties that arise from the separation of physical and mental health systems for older people with multiple needs, and the impact of living in a rural region on unmet mental health care needs of older people.
- Mental health
- Older people