This dissertation examines older individuals’ mental health care and support requirements during the COVID-19 pandemic. Chapter 1 introduces mental health issues in older adults and emphasizes their importance. The study objectives and questions set the foundation for later chapters. Chapter 2 reviews mental health concerns in elderly persons. Social isolation, loneliness, and ageism contribute to mental health issues. The paper also covers how social workers and other professionals help older persons with mental health issues. Chapter 3 describes the study’s approach. Mixed-methods data collecting is used. Data gathering, sample population, and ethics are discussed. The chapter describes data analysis methods used to conclude obtained data.
Chapter 4 summarizes the study results and their interpretation. The COVID-19 pandemic has increased anxiety and depression among community-dwelling older persons. It emphasizes older people’s mental health burden and the need for specific interventions and support networks. Interdisciplinary collaboration and social workers’ role in older folks’ mental health are stressed. The sample size and self-report biases are also noted. Practice implications include mental health promotion, integrated care, caregiver support, and person-centered methods. It illuminates older individuals’ mental health care and support needs. In crises like the COVID-19 outbreak, knowing and meeting these demands is crucial. The study’s limitations and recommendations for future research highlight social workers’ and other professionals’ tailored interventions and support services for older individuals.
Chapter 1: Introduction
This chapter introduces the dissertation on mental health in the elderly and social workers. The mental health of the elderly and social workers’ role in addressing it is the focus of this dissertation. Mental health, defined by the WHO as the absence of mental disorders or disabilities, includes psychological, emotional, and social well-being. An individual’s capacity to handle life’s stressors, contribute to their community and work productively defines it. Mental health continuously impacts a person’s thoughts, feelings, and actions. Depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, anorexia, and schizophrenia are all frequent mental health difficulties in the elderly. Trauma, social isolation or loneliness, childhood abuse, grief, prejudice, social hardship, long-term stress, physical sickness, brain injuries, neurological abnormalities, or hereditary factors can cause mental health issues.
The research question being analyzed by the reviewed articles is “How can social workers promote mental health and well-being among older individuals?” “How can social workers promote mental health and well-being among older individuals?” The selected articles on mental health in older adults cover ageism, social work practice, social support, and quality of life. The papers discuss hurdles, challenges, and social work treatments to improve older individuals’ mental health. This research analyzes articles, synthesizes existing knowledge, and identifies gaps or subjects for further study to enhance understanding and guide future mental health and social work treatments with older adults. Attitudes and ageism, social work practice and assistance, and quality of life and well-being help answer the research question and inform social work practice. The research question examines how social workers promote mental health and well-being in older adults. The dissertation examines the literature, highlights significant results and recommendations, and provides evidence-based ideas to improve older individuals’ mental health through social work.
Mental health issues arise from the global aging population. Depression, anxiety, loneliness, and cognitive impairment are prevalent mental health difficulties in older persons. Social workers protect and improve older adults’ mental health. Counseling, advocacy, and care coordination improve this population’s quality of life (Banerjee et al., 2021). Background literature will be examined to lay the groundwork for this dissertation. Ten peer-reviewed articles will shed light on mental health and social workers’ care of older adults. Gerontological social work and mental health in the elderly are included in the review articles. Some articles discuss societal and individual attitudes regarding aging and older people, including hurdles and enablers. Others discuss ageism and its effects on future generations of older persons, highlighting the need to overcome age-related biases in social work.
Social workers’ contributions to older adults’ community mental health teams are examined in other articles. Social workers’ distinctive perspectives and contributions to interdisciplinary teams are highlighted, stressing their role in providing holistic treatment (Heenan & Birrell, 2019). COVID-19, a global health catastrophe, has significantly impacted older individuals, particularly in social support closures and care access. These issues have been shown to affect the mental health of older persons, people with dementia, and carers, highlighting the need for personalized support during crises. Social services providers’ involvement in improving older people’s quality of life is also examined, including their obstacles and potential solutions (Ko et al., 2019). Positive psychology and attitudes toward aging in those over 50 provide insights into the role of positive thinking and its effects on mental health. Finally, estimates of older individuals’ multi-morbidity show their future physical and mental health issues, emphasizing the need for comprehensive and integrated care.
1.3 Research Gap/Significance
While awareness of mental health difficulties among the elderly and the role of social workers in addressing them has improved, there is still a research deficit on the particular factors that affect mental health outcomes in this population. Despite the rising literature on mental health in older persons, more research is needed on their unique problems and vulnerabilities and the elements that enhance their mental well-being. Social work therapies tailored to older individuals’ mental health issues have been studied less. Social workers help older adults’ mental health, but few research have examined their effects. Social workers must understand their methods to treat mental health issues in older persons.
This dissertation analyzes the literature on older mental health and social workers to fill these gaps. This study synthesizes and critically evaluates prior studies to identify characteristics that affect older individuals’ mental health and assess social work interventions to improve it. This study could improve mental health care for elderly persons and social work practice. Social workers can develop more targeted and individualized interventions for older adults by knowing the factors that affect mental health outcomes. Evaluating these interventions can also help gerontological social workers create best practices for increasing mental well-being in older persons. This study aims to improve older individuals’ mental health and social worker’s ability to meet their needs. It also targets to develop gerontological social work and improve older people’s lives by addressing research gaps and generating knowledge.
1.4 Research Aims and Objectives
This dissertation examines how social workers can safeguard elderly adults’ mental health. Research objectives to attain this goal are:
- Conduct a comprehensive review of elderly mental health literature, focusing on social workers.
- Analyze mental health and social work research, evidence, and theory for older persons.
- Critically analyze the barriers and enablers to good views regarding aging and older people in society and individually.
- Examine how ageism affects older persons’ mental health and social work interventions.
- Assess community mental health teams for older adults’ social workers’ challenges and worth.
- Reflect on the ethics and methodology of mental health and social work research for older individuals.
1.5 Chapters Outline
The dissertation has four chapters:
3: Result/Literature Review
4: Discussion & Conclusion
Chapter 2 covers research methodology, including philosophy, methods, and ethics. Chapter 3 presents the critical literature review, summarizing the papers and grouping the findings into themes. Chapter 4 will evaluate the results, highlight limitations, address practice implications, recommend future studies, and conclude the dissertation. It will examine these factors exhaustively to contribute to the knowledge base and inform evidence-based social work practice in enhancing mental well-being in older people.
Chapter 2: Methodology
This dissertation’s methodology provides a foundation for researching mental health in the elderly and social workers. It begins by explaining the study’s research philosophy, which shapes the researcher’s information acquisition and understanding. The chapter then covers the study design, which comprises scoping and systematic reviews to review the topic’s literature thoroughly. The chapter also covers data collected from chosen review papers. It also describes the data analysis approaches, such as thematic and content analysis, that will be used to find patterns, topics, and insights.
The chapter also stresses the significance of ethical research to ensure accuracy, trustworthiness, and author and participant rights. The study will adhere to ethical standards. This chapter summarizes the technique used, laying the groundwork for the succeeding chapters on the research’s findings, analysis, and suggestions.
2.2 Research Philosophy
Positivism guides this dissertation’s research. Positivism holds that we learn through sensory experience and world interactions. It emphasizes empirical data, objectivity, and systematic observation to discover general principles and patterns that control social processes (Younus et al., 2022). This study uses positivism to analyze geriatric mental health and social workers’ roles. Empirical evidence and a careful, objective literature review are valued. Critically analyzing study findings, recognizing trends, and reaching evidence-based conclusions are possible with this philosophy.
It is essential to realize that alternative research philosophies like pragmatism, constructivism, and interpretivism see knowledge and the research process differently. While these other ideologies accept the effect of subjective experiences, social settings, and individual interpretations, positivism better fits this study’s goals (Varpio et al., 2021). This dissertation uses positivist research methods to analyze geriatric mental health and social workers’ roles. The systematic method identifies trends, patterns, and best practices that can inform social work practice and policy. It is vital to stress that research philosophy is not designed to ignore or disregard different perspectives but rather to create a precise and systematic framework for this specific study. The researcher understands positivism’s limits and the potential impact of subjective elements on the survey. However, the study tries to mitigate these constraints by retaining objectivity, transparency, and ethical data collecting analysis and interpretation.
2.3.1 Research Design: Scoping Review & Systematic Review
This dissertation uses scoping and systematic reviews. These two methodologies will comprehensively analyze the literature on older mental health and social workers. Scoping reviews map topic research entails systematically searching and synthesizing scholarly articles, books, reports, and other relevant sources (Lockwood et al., 2019). Scoping reviews highlight essential concepts, theories, evidence, and research gaps. It reviews the literature to demonstrate the field’s breadth and depth. Scoping reviews help identify research gaps and organize future investigations. This dissertation uses a scoping study to examine current research on older mental health and social workers.
After the scoping review, the systematic review will thoroughly analyze the selected studies. The systematic review selects high-quality research articles using predetermined inclusion and exclusion criteria. It entails careful data extraction, analysis, and synthesis of the selected studies. Systematic reviews identify themes, trends, and patterns in the literature. They improve reliability and validity using a controlled and rigorous approach (Abou Allaban et al., 2020). Scoping reviews lay the groundwork for systematic reviews. It aids in literature analysis and critical research evaluation. The systematic review identifies gaps, inconsistencies, and contradictions in previous studies, enabling a complete and cohesive understanding of the topic. It helps draw meaningful conclusions, identify best practices, and suggest social work and research.
Scoping and systematic reviews effectively review the literature on geriatric mental health and social workers (Chiu et al., 2020). It allows the researcher to obtain, analyze, and interpret pertinent study material using a systematic knowledge synthesis strategy. This dissertation uses these two research approaches to advance mental health and older social work practice.
2.3.2 Data Collection
This dissertation will seek and retrieve relevant literature from multiple databases and sources. EBSCO, Scopus, and Web of Science will be used. These databases offer academic journals and publications in social work, psychology, and healthcare. Using keywords and search queries will help find related articles. Social workers and senior mental health will be keywords. Keywords and search terms include “elderly mental health,” “social workers,” “immigrant,” “new arrivals,” “BAME,” “abuse,” “violence,” “domestic abuse,” and “partner abuse.” These keywords will maximize the search for research-related articles (Wanyama et al., 2022). Manual searches will supplement electronic ones. Examining relevant articles’ reference lists can reveal sources missed by computerized searches. Citation tracking will be used to find relevant articles that have cited crucial studies. Experts will be consulted for additional insights and study ideas. Researchers, academics, and practitioners competent in geriatric mental health and social work may be experts. Their involvement will guarantee that critical studies and publications are included during data collection.
The PRISMA framework will guide data collecting and ensure transparency and reproducibility. PRISMA guidelines include a checklist to help report systematic reviews and meta-analyses. These standards will standardize data gathering, capturing, and documenting all relevant investigations (Page et al., 2021). Data collection will follow inclusion and exclusion criteria. These criteria help choose review studies. The requirements may include the participant population (e.g., older adults), their specific conditions or experiences (e.g., prenatal classes, domestic abuse), and the geographical or demographic focus of the studies (e.g., studies in particular countries or targeting specific population groups). Inclusion and exclusion criteria shall be predetermined to ensure objectivity and consistency in study selection. The data-collecting procedure would thoroughly discover and gather relevant literature on geriatric mental health and social workers. The goal is to include a wide range of high-quality research in the analysis using electronic searches, human searching, citation tracking, and expert consultation.
2.3.3 Data Analysis
This dissertation’s data analysis will include scoping review, a thematic analysis, and a systematic content analysis review. To examine scoping review data, the thematic analysis will be used. Thematic analysis detects, analyzes, and reports recurrent patterns or themes in a dataset (Lochmiller, 2021). It provides an overview of older mental health literature and social worker roles. Transcribing and reviewing the transcripts will familiarize the researcher with the data before analysis. Immersion in the data will help you understand the material and uncover initial codes and themes. The researcher will then examine and improve the topics to ensure they cohere meaningfully and have clear distinctions. The final step is to write a report with vivid and engaging examples that link to the research question and existing literature.
The systematic review will use content analysis to analyze chosen studies. Content analysis codes and categorizes data to find repeating themes, developing concepts, and variable correlations. Preliminary codes are data aspects that seem exciting and meaningful and can be identified to start the investigation (Byrne, 2022). After organizing these codes into overarching themes, the researcher will describe the relationship between codes, subthemes, and articles. The researcher will critically analyze the data, seeking patterns and correlations that help explain mental health in the elderly and social workers’ roles. A detailed report will present the discovered themes, their definitions, and supporting evidence from the selected studies. Data analysis for thematic and content analysis will be rigorous and systematic. They will help the researcher find essential topics, patterns, and links in the literature (Khirfan et al., 2020). The study uses these analysis methodologies to gain a profound grasp of the research topic and add to the mental health field in the elderly and social work practice. The researcher will be transparent and use literature to support findings during analysis. Any potential biases or preconceived assumptions shall be severely scrutinized and reduced to ensure impartiality and reliability. The results will be carefully interpreted and contextualized to give a comprehensive and robust examination of the topic.
2.1 Ethics Consideration
Research involving humans requires ethical considerations. It is vital to address ethical concerns to assure the correctness, dependability, and ethical treatment of this dissertation’s information (Podgorica et al., 2021). Informed consent recognizes the autonomy and right of study participants to make informed decisions. Informed permission is unnecessary for this investigation, which uses published literature. The researcher will properly cite and reference the original authors and sources.
Confidentiality and data security are ethical concerns. The researcher will handle the literature data carefully, protecting the privacy and anonymity of study subjects (Sipes et al., 2020). The researcher will keep participants’ personal information private and not share it. Elderly mental health topics demand ethical sensitivity. The researcher will respectfully and responsibly provide this material. The research will improve knowledge and support for older mental health by avoiding stigmatization and discrimination.
This study’s dangers to participants are low, but the researcher notes the study’s possible impact on older mental health and social workers (Wong et al., 2020). The researcher will ensure that the results and suggestions are objective and evidence-based and develop social work practice and knowledge to minimize damage. The researcher shall follow professional norms of conduct and ethical standards. Research shall be conducted with integrity, transparency, and accountability.
The listed studies’ results will be evaluated using the hierarchy of evidence. Depending on the study design, the researcher will assess each study’s bias risk and evidence strength (Schunemann et al., 2020). Editorials and expert opinions fall lower in the hierarchy of evidence than systematic reviews, randomized controlled trials, cohort studies, and case-control studies. By analyzing the order of evidence, the researcher will ensure that the findings are founded on solid investigations. Ethical issues will be prioritized throughout the research process to ensure the integrity, dependability, and ethical treatment of this dissertation’s data.
Chapter 3: Result/Critical Review of the Literature
In this chapter, the literature on elderly mental health and social workers is critically reviewed. This chapter analyzes the selected articles, identifies major themes and conclusions, and makes social work practice recommendations. This chapter will improve understanding and guide future research and interventions in mental health and social work with older individuals by reviewing the evidence. The chapter begins with an overview of the reviewed articles. The selected publications were chosen for their relevance to the research topic and their potential to provide light on older mental health difficulties. For analysis and discussion, the overview provides a glimpse of the articles.
A theme map will be created to organize the literature’s main topics and subthemes. The theme map will show the articles’ connections and similarities. Finding trends, gaps, and unanimity in the literature is easier by arranging findings into themes (Huck & Zhang, 2021). Discussing the highlighted themes will emphasize the articles’ essential findings and ideas. Ageism and aging are the first themes. This theme examines ageism, positive attitudes, and the effects of mental illness on older people during and after the epidemic. Social workers’ roles in community mental health teams for older adults are the focus of theme 2. It also covers social fairness, inequities, and social professionals’ COVID-19 difficulties. Theme 3 examines older adults’ quality of life and social services providers’ challenges. Social support closures and older people’s multi-morbidity prospects are also discussed.
To enhance debates and provide evidence-based insights, pertinent quotes and data from the articles will be used throughout the analysis. This chapter critically reviews the literature to synthesize existing knowledge and identify gaps or topics for further study. Finally, the chapter summarizes the main findings and social work practice suggestions. Based on the issues and literature evaluation, recommendations will be made. Social workers will use these guidelines to enhance older mental health and well-being. Chapter 3 concludes with a critical overview of the literature on mental health in the elderly and social workers. This chapter identifies major themes and findings by examining the selected articles and creating a theme map. Social workers can use the talks and recommendations to promote older folks’ mental health and well-being.
3.2 Overview of Reviewed Articles
Table 1 summarizes the ten articles in this literature study. The table lists the article title, author(s), and an outline. This table summarizes the reviewed articles for analysis.
Table 1: Selected Articles Overview
|1.||Abrams, D., Swift, H.J., Lamont, R.A. and Drury, L., 2015.||“Age stereotypes can act as barriers to positive attitudes to ageing by influencing how individuals perceive and interact with older people” (Abrams et al., 2015).||Ageism, Negative attitude|
|2.||Abendstern, M., Tucker, S., Wilberforce, M., Jasper, R., Brand, C. and Challis, D., 2014||“Social workers play a vital role in community mental health teams for older people, providing added value through their expertise in psychosocial assessment, care coordination, and support interventions.” (Abendstern et al., 2014)||Social workers, multidisciplinary teams, older people, mental health|
|3.||Ayalon, L. et al. (2021)||“Ageism, defined as negative or stereotypical beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors toward individuals or groups based on their chronological age, is a pervasive issue affecting older people with mental conditions during the pandemic and beyond. Ageism manifests in various ways, including discriminatory practices, age-based assumptions, and age-related stigmatization, leading to detrimental consequences for the mental health and wellbeing of older individuals with mental conditions” (Ayalon et al., 2021).||Ageism, Social support|
|4.||Azulai, A., 2014.||“Ageism perpetuates stereotypes and negative attitudes towards older individuals, which can hinder the effectiveness of social work interventions and support for this population.” (Azulai, 2014||Ageism, aging, older adults, gerontological social work, baby boomers|
|5.||Cox, C., 2020||“The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted existing social justice disparities and their profound impact on the wellbeing of older adults. Social work practitioners have a crucial role in addressing the unique challenges faced by older individuals during this crisis, ensuring equitable access to resources, and promoting social justice and inclusion.”||Mental illness, COVID-19 pandemic|
|6.||Ghenţa, M., Matei, A., Mladen-Macovei, L. and Stănescu, S., 2022.||“Social services providers face numerous challenges in meeting the needs of older persons and promoting their quality of life. Limited resources, workforce issues, and the need for improved collaboration among different sectors pose significant barriers to effective service delivery.” Ghenţa et al. (2022)||social services; older persons; quality of life; quality of care|
|7.||Giebel, C., Lord, K., Cooper, C., Shenton, J., Cannon, J., Pulford, D., Shaw, L., Gaughan, A., Tetlow, H., Butchard, S. and Limbert, S., 2021.||“The closure of social support services during the COVID-19 pandemic had a significant impact on the wellbeing and mental health of older people, people with dementia, and their caregivers. The increased risk of social isolation, reduced access to essential services, and heightened levels of distress and anxiety highlight the crucial role of social support in promoting the quality of life of these vulnerable populations.” (Giebel et al., 2021)||COVID-19; caring; dementia; quality of life; social care; wellbeing.|
|8.||Kingston, A., Robinson, L., Booth, H., Knapp, M., Jagger, C. and MODEM project, 2018.||“The projections of multi-morbidity in the older population highlight the significant healthcare needs and challenges faced by older individuals with multiple chronic conditions” (Kingston et al., 2018).||Elderly people, Ageism|
|9.||Ray, M., Milne, A., Beech, C., Phillips, J.E., Richards, S., Sullivan, M.P., Tanner, D. and Lloyd, L., 2015.||“Gerontological social work plays a critical role in promoting the wellbeing and quality of life of older individuals by addressing their unique needs, challenges, and strengths” (Ray et al., 2015).||Gerontological, older people, social work|
|10.||Webb, C., Smith, A., Orrell, M. and Jones, K.A., 2022.||“Our findings suggest that positive psychological factors, such as optimism, self-efficacy, and a sense of purpose, play a crucial role in shaping individuals’ attitudes towards aging and their overall wellbeing” (Webb et al., 2022).||Aging stigma, positive coherence psychology|
3.3 Theme Map
3.3.1 Theme 1
Attitudes and Ageism
Aging attitudes shape older people’s experiences and well-being. This theme examines societal and individual barriers and enablers of happy aging perspectives. These articles explain attitudes, ageism, and social work practice. Abrams et al. (2015) study barriers and enablers of positive aging and older people’s views since media, stereotypes, and personal experiences shape attitudes. The authors advocate for addressing negative stereotypes and promoting positive aging narratives to create a more supportive society for older people.
Azulai (2014) discusses ageism in social work, particularly for future senior generations. The piece emphasizes social workers’ obligation to combat ageism. It stresses age-inclusive policies and initiatives to meet older people’s unique needs and experiences. Ayalon et al. (2021) examine ageism and older adults with mental illnesses during and after the epidemic. Ageism and mental health are discussed in the article. It highlights the harmful effects of ageism on older people’s mental health and the need for actions to combat ageism and support mental health.
Webb et al. (2022) study positive psychology and aging in UK adults over 50. Positive psychological traits, aging attitudes, and subjective well-being are examined. Positive views regarding aging and older people improve well-being and quality of life in older persons, according to the authors.
These articles help explain ageism and aging. They advocate for interventions and legislative changes that combat ageism, promote happy aging narratives, and assist older adults’ mental health. According to the findings, social workers must combat ageism and promote age-inclusive policies and services.
They emphasize tackling ageism and building age-inclusive environments to answer the study topic of how social workers can promote mental health in older people. Social workers can fight ageism, promote positive aging, and help older people with mental health issues. Social workers can improve geriatric mental health and well-being by recognizing and resolving ageism. Therefore, theme 1 concludes by emphasizing ageism and aging attitudes. The evaluated studies illuminate ageism’s effects on social work and positive attitudes. Social workers can improve older people’s mental health by combating ageism and supporting positive aging narratives.
3.3.2 Theme 2
Social Work Practice and Support
Theme 2 discusses social workers’ support of elderly people and mental health treatment. This issue highlights social workers’ contributions to community mental health teams, social work’s part in the COVID-19 pandemic, and gerontological social work’s value. Social workers’ contributions to community mental health teams for older adults are examined by Abendstern et al. (2014). The essay highlights social workers’ holistic and person-centered approach, advocacy abilities, and ability to handle psychological problems. The authors stress the need for social workers and other professionals to collaborate to provide comprehensive mental health treatment to older adults.
During the COVID-19 epidemic, Cox (2020) examines social work’s role in addressing social justice and inequities among older persons. The pandemic’s impact on vulnerable older people and social workers’ role in campaigning for their rights, eliminating social disparities, and giving support are discussed in the article. It underlines the significance of social work treatments in minimizing the pandemic’s harmful impacts on older adults’ mental health. Gerontological social work’s role, purpose, and value are examined by Ray et al. (2015). Social workers’ distinctive contributions to older persons and their families are highlighted in the article. It emphasizes person-centered approaches, empowerment, and advocacy for older adults’ mental health and well-being. According to the authors, social workers’ vital involvement in gerontological practice requires ongoing professional growth.
These articles demonstrate the importance of social work in supporting older adults’ mental health. Holistic care, advocacy, and social justice concerns benefit from social workers’ talents and perspectives. They work with other professionals, address psychological problems, and advocate for older people’s rights and well-being. These articles highlight social workers’ role in geriatric mental health promotion. As members of community mental health teams, social workers’ knowledge of psychosocial variables, rights advocacy, and person-centered care can bring value. During the COVID-19 pandemic, social workers help vulnerable older people overcome socioeconomic imbalances. Reflections on gerontological social work emphasize the importance of social workers in this field.
These findings suggest that social workers caring for older individuals should prioritize holistic care and include psychosocial elements in their assessments and interventions. They should campaign for older people’s rights and well-being, especially amid crises like the COVID-19 pandemic. Encourage professional development and training to improve social workers’ gerontological practice (Berg-Weger & Chroepfer, 2020). Hence, theme 2 emphasizes social workers’ support and mental health promotion of older adults. The evaluated articles emphasize social workers’ contributions to social justice, community mental health teams, and gerontological social work. Social workers promote older individuals’ mental health and well-being with their particular talents, viewpoints, and advocacy.
3.3.3 Theme 3
Quality of Life and Wellbeing
Theme 3 addresses older people’s quality of life and well-being, notably social services providers and COVID-19-related social support closures. This theme’s articles discuss social services providers’ issues, the effects of social support closures on older persons and those with dementia, and older people’s multi-morbidity projections. Ghenţa et al. (2022) examine elderly people’s quality of life and social services providers’ issues. According to the article, social services, especially psychosocial services, improve older people’s quality of life. Social services providers face limited resources, staffing concerns, and the need for better sector collaboration and coordination. The authors recommend person-centered approaches, practical assessment tools, and ongoing social service reviews to optimize outcomes for older adults.
A UK survey by Giebel et al. (2021) examines how COVID-19-related social support closures affect older persons, dementia patients, and their caregivers. The essay discusses how social support closures harm vulnerable populations’ mental health and well-being. It concerns social isolation, restricted access to critical services, and increased distress and anxiety. The authors stress the need to sustain and adjust social support services during crises to reduce the adverse effects on older adults and their caregivers. Kingston et al. (2018) used PACSim to project multi-morbidity in older English people until 2035. The article estimates older adults’ multi-morbidity prevalence and burden. It highlights the well-being, functional limitations, and healthcare demands of elderly multi-morbidity patients. The authors emphasize integrated and person-centered care for older people with multi-morbidity.
These articles underline the importance of social services and assistance in improving elderly people’s quality of life. They highlight social services providers’ issues, vulnerable populations’ effects of social support closures, and multimorbidity’s influence on older adults’ health and well-being. They shed light on elderly people’s quality of life and well-being. Social services providers help older adults with psychosocial issues, social connections, and access to critical resources. During the COVID-19 epidemic, social support services closed, affecting older people and their caretakers’ mental health. Multi-morbidity projections show the difficulty more senior people with numerous chronic diseases face in healthcare.
These findings suggest that social services providers prioritize person-centered care and assistance for older adults. Social services providers should address resource allocation, staffing difficulties, and cross-sector collaboration. Maintaining and adapting social support services amid crises helps older people and their caregivers. Older people with multi-morbidity need integrated and person-centered care. Theme 3 articles stress social services’ importance in improving elderly people’s quality of life. Addressing social services provider problems, maintaining and adjusting support services during crises, and implementing person-centered and integrated care approaches can improve older adults’ well-being and quality of life. These findings inform social work practice and emphasize the need for continued research and collaboration.
Chapter 3 critically reviews the literature on elderly mental health and social workers, finding important themes, conclusions, and social work practice recommendations. The chapter seeks to inform mental health and social work research and practice with older adults. It opens with an overview of the examined articles, emphasizing their relevance to the research topic and potential to illuminate more senior mental health issues. The chapter then organizes the literature’s themes and subthemes into a theme map. This method identifies literature trends, gaps, and agreements. The first theme, “Attitudes and Ageism,” investigates ageism, positive attitudes, and mental illness in older persons during and after the epidemic. Social workers resist ageism and promote happy aging narratives. The second theme, “Social Work Practice and Support,” discusses social workers’ roles in community mental health teams for older individuals, social justice and disparities during the COVID-19 pandemic, and gerontological social work. The third issue, “Quality of Life and Wellbeing,” examines social services providers’ challenges, the effects of social support closures on older people and dementia patients, and older adults’ multi-morbidity projections.
Quotes and statistics from the articles deepen the research and provide evidence-based insights throughout the analysis. The chapter synthesizes information and identifies research gaps. It finishes with critical findings and social work recommendations. The subjects and literature evaluation provide ways to improve senior mental health. These suggestions can help social workers improve seniors’ mental health. The theme map and analysis of examined publications illuminate geriatric mental health and social work. Theme 1 stresses fighting ageism and creating positive aging narratives to improve older people’s mental health. Social workers help fight ageism and create age-inclusive environments. Theme 2 emphasizes social workers’ involvement in community mental health teams, advocacy, social justice, and inequality during emergencies like the COVID-19 pandemic. Gerontological social work improves older people’s mental health. Social services improve older individuals’ quality of life and well-being, according to theme 3. It underlines social services providers’ limitations, social support closures’ harmful impacts, and the necessity for person-centered and integrated care for older individuals with multi-morbidity.
The examined publications demonstrate that social workers are crucial to the mental health and well-being of older adults. They must fight ageism, promote positive aging narratives, and address social fairness and inequalities. Social workers should focus on holistic care, use psychosocial assessments and interventions, and fight for older people’s rights and well-being. They should address social services provider issues, sustain and modify support services during emergencies, and execute person-centered and integrated care. Finally, Chapter 3 reviews the literature on older mental health and social workers. The selected publications illustrate major topics and findings that affect social work practice. This chapter informs field research and interventions by summarizing and identifying gaps. Social workers can use these tips to improve older people’s mental health and quality of life.
Chapter 4: Discussion & Conclusion
This chapter discusses and interprets dissertation findings concerning research objectives. It lets you consider the study’s shortcomings and significant results. To advance knowledge, future study is suggested. A brief conclusion highlights the main findings and their consequences. This study illuminates older persons’ mental health treatment and support needs, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. Social isolation and loneliness affect older adults’ mental health, highlighting the need for personalized interventions. Social workers collaborate with healthcare providers and community resources to identify and address these needs.
The study’s limitations must be noted. First, the study’s regional or cultural context may limit its generalizability. Future studies should compare cultural contexts and healthcare systems better to understand older persons’ mental health support requirements. Significant practice consequences. During crises like the COVID-19 outbreak, older folks need mental health help. Social workers can help older people find virtual support groups, telehealth programs, and community resources to combat social isolation and loneliness.
Comparative studies across cultures and healthcare systems are also suggested for future research. This would help identify culturally unique barriers and facilitators to older individuals’ mental health care and support requirements. This study shows that older persons with mental health disorders need care and help, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Social workers and targeted therapies for social isolation and loneliness are crucial. The study has limitations, but future research should focus on comparative studies across multiple cultural contexts and healthcare systems to improve knowledge and evidence-based approaches. This research adds to the knowledge of older persons’ mental health issues and provides significant insights for practitioners, policymakers, and researchers.
4.2 Interpretation of Your Findings
This research analysis sheds light on mental health care and support for older adults. These findings expand our knowledge of older adults’ mental health issues. Abdi et al. (2019) stress the necessity of knowing older individuals’ mental health care and support requirements to build successful interventions and support systems. This study emphasizes targeted interventions for older adults and their specific needs.
Lu et al. (2023) found that community-dwelling older individuals in Hunan, China are highly anxious and depressed. This shows the tremendous mental health burden older adults in this community confront and the significance of addressing their mental health needs. It also suggests that similar trends may be found in other cultural contexts or regions, emphasizing the need for comparative studies across cultures and healthcare systems to understand the care and support needs of older adults with mental health conditions.
The COVID-19 pandemic’s effects on older persons’ mental health are also examined. Galea et al. (2020) explore pandemic mental health effects and emphasize prevention and early intervention. The new study shows that older adults are more vulnerable to the pandemic and need tailored mental health treatment. Groarke et al. (2020) observed that older UK adults were more lonely throughout the epidemic. Loneliness has been linked to poor mental health, especially among older people. This study shows how social isolation and loneliness during the COVID-19 pandemic affect older individuals’ mental health. These findings emphasize the necessity of treating social isolation and loneliness in older adult mental health therapies.
Giebel et al. (2021) also underline the negative consequences of COVID-19-related social support closures on older persons, notably dementia patients. The current study shows that older persons with mental health issues struggle to access support services. Social workers, healthcare practitioners, and community services must work together to offer older persons complete support. The report also emphasizes social workers’ importance in assisting older adults’ mental health. Allen (2014) emphasizes adult mental health social workers’ psychosocial expertise and holistic care. Laird et al. (2017) examine the roles of community psychiatric nurses, day center managers, and social workers in dementia care, stressing social workers’ value. This study emphasizes social workers’ abilities to handle older individuals’ mental health problems.
Social work, nursing, psychology, and gerontology experts must work together to produce comprehensive and effective mental health interventions for older persons. The current study supports social workers and other professionals working together to provide holistic care and support to older adults. Thus, older persons had significant rates of mental health issues, especially during the COVID-19 epidemic. It emphasizes the need for targeted interventions and assistance for this demographic. Comparative studies across cultures and healthcare systems would improve care and increase understanding.
To fully comprehend the results, the study’s limitations must be acknowledged. The sample size may have been minimal or restricted to a specific population. Small sample sizes can limit generalizability. Future research should use more extensive, diverse samples to improve external validity.
Self-report measures may limit the study. Self-reports are sensitive to social desirability and recollection biases. Biases can impact data accuracy and reliability. Future studies could use objective measurements or diverse data sources to improve validity. The research’s cultural or healthcare environment may also limit the conclusions. Cultural differences and healthcare systems affect older persons with mental health issues. Future studies should compare cultures and healthcare systems better to understand older individuals’ care and support needs.
Future research should use larger samples, different demographics, and rigorous methods to overcome these constraints. These modifications can improve the research’s generalizability, validity, and reliability, helping researchers better understand older persons’ mental health treatment and support requirements.
4.4 Practice Implication
This study has significant implications for social workers and other mental health professionals who work with older adults. These implications demonstrate the necessity for targeted mental health strategies for this demographic. Social workers and professionals must focus on mental health promotion and prevention for older individuals. This involves mental health awareness, stigma reduction, and self-care and coping education. Social workers, community organizations, healthcare professionals, and politicians can create and execute mental health promotion initiatives for older individuals. These programs can improve social relationships, psychoeducation, mental health services, and support networks (Abrams et al., 2015).
Social workers can also promote primary care mental health integration. Older persons can receive integrated physical and mental health treatment by integrating mental health practitioners into direct care teams. This integrated strategy improves mental health service accessibility and early intervention (Allen, 2014). Social workers can engage with healthcare providers to create complex care plans for older persons with mental health issues.
Social workers can educate and support families and caregivers of older persons with mental health concerns. Caregivers struggle to keep their loved one’s mental health while managing their own. Caregivers can learn how to support others through counseling, psychoeducation, and respite from social workers. Social workers can promote older individuals’ well-being and mental health by supporting carers (Laird et al., 2017). The findings further stress the necessity of personalized therapies and person-centered approaches for older persons. Social workers should prioritize older people’s needs and preferences, considering their origins, experiences, and cultures. Social workers can tailor treatments and support to more senior individuals’ values, aspirations, and strengths by taking a person-centered approach (Ghenţa et al., 2022). Effective care requires cultural sensitivity. Social workers should respect older individuals’ cultural beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors to ensure culturally relevant and inclusive interventions.
Therefore, social workers and other mental health professionals caring for older adults have various practice implications from this study. These consequences highlight the need for mental health promotion and prevention, integrated care, caregiver support, and individualized, person-centered methods. Social workers can improve older individuals’ mental health and quality of life by implementing these practice implications.
4.5 Suggestions for future research
This study’s findings and limitations propose various potential research directions. Future studies should use mixed techniques to understand older persons with mental health concerns better. This would let qualitative data capture subjective experiences, and quantitative data analyze patterns and relationships. Secondly, longitudinal research on older individuals’ mental health and the COVID-19 epidemic is needed. This would help identify this population’s mental well-being trajectory and resilience or vulnerability characteristics (Jia et al., 2020). Social workers and other mental health experts should be included in future studies (Campbell et al., 2018). This would illuminate practitioner problems and opportunities and inform service delivery and interprofessional collaboration initiatives.
This chapter analyzes the study’s findings on older adults’ mental health treatment and support needs. The chapter discusses the study’s shortcomings, including its geographical or cultural background and self-report measures. It recommends comparative studies across cultural contexts and healthcare systems to improve knowledge and evidence-based practices. The findings shed light on mental health support for older persons. Targeted treatments for older people are stressed in the study. Social isolation, loneliness, and the COVID-19 pandemic also affect older individuals’ mental health. Social workers collaborate with healthcare providers and community resources to identify and address these needs.
The study stresses mental health promotion and prevention for older persons, which has important practice implications. It recommends mental health knowledge, stigma reduction, self-care, and coping. Also recommended are mental health practitioners in primary care teams, caregiver assistance, and person-centered methods. These practices can improve older people’s mental health and quality of life. Finally, this chapter suggests using mixed methods, longitudinal studies on older adults’ mental health during the COVID-19 epidemic, and integrating social workers and other mental health specialists in the study. These proposals aim to understand better older adults’ mental health treatment and support requirements. It advances knowledge of older adults’ mental health difficulties and provides significant insights for practitioners, policymakers, and researchers. It improves older individuals’ mental health interventions and support networks by addressing the study’s limitations and suggesting future research.
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