Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) for Older Adults

Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) for older adults with common mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety is a national and local priority. IAPT is as effective for older adults (65+) as for those of working age, typically, this age group tends to respond well to talking therapies but currently have low referral rates. Signs of depression and anxiety are often overlooked and assumed to be a result of getting older. The proportion of people over 65-year olds referred into IAPT services is lower than the proportion of the general population.

During 2018, Health Innovation Network worked in partnership with two south London IAPT providers, Lewisham Psychological Therapies Service and Mind in Bexley. The project used behavioural science (the study of how people make daily decisions) techniques to increase referrals of older adults into IAPT services.

The project aimed to address some of the barriers that have been identified nationally that prevent older adults accessing IAPT by:

  • reducing the stigma older people may attach to mental health
  • informing healthcare professionals that common mental health issues are not a normal part of ageing
  • communicating the effectiveness of IAPT services as a treatment for older adults
  • increasing the confidence levels of IAPT therapists to treat older adults.

Download the Evaluation report here

For more information, contact Aileen Jackson, Health Innovation Network Mental Health lead at