Preventing and responding to depression, self-harm, and suicide in older people living in long term care settings: a systematic review

Helen Gleeson, Trish Hafford-Letchfield, Matthew Quaife, Daniela Collins, Ann Flynn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
7 Downloads (Pure)


Objective: The well documented demographic shift to an aging population means that more people will in future be in need of long term residential care. Previous research has reported an increased risk of mental health issues and suicidal ideation among older people living in residential care settings. However, there is little information on the actual prevalence of depression, self-harm, and suicidal behavior in this population, how it is measured and how care homes respond to these issues.

Method: This systematic review of international literature addressed three research questions relating to; the prevalence of mental health problems in this population; how they are identified and; how care homes try to prevent or respond to mental health issues.

Results: Findings showed higher reported rates of depression and suicidal behaviour in care home residents compared to matched age groups in the community, variation in the use of standardised measures across studies and, interventions almost exclusively focused on increasing staff knowledge about mental health but with an absence of involvement of older people themselves in these programmes.

Conclusion: We discuss the implications of these findings in the context of addressing mental health difficulties experienced by older people in residential care and future research in this area
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1467-1477
Number of pages11
JournalAging and Mental Health
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 4 Nov 2018


  • ageing
  • mental health
  • suicide prevention
  • care homes

Cite this