A FRESH campaign has been launched to start conversations about mental health with older people, their families and carers this winter.

Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust and Age UK Oxfordshire have joined forces to support a national campaign to tackle the issue and encourage more people to access therapy, like the free, confidential NHS service Talking Space Plus.

This service has helped more than 100,000 people in Oxfordshire since its creation in 2009.

As part of the campaign letters are also being sent to all surgeries in the county inviting GPs to talk to patients about depression and anxiety, increase referrals and to not offer medication as a first treatment option.

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Penny Thewlis, Age UK Oxfordshire chief executive, said: "Depression and anxiety in later life, especially over the age of 65, are often dismissed as a normal part of ageing. It isn’t normal.

"We want every older person to be able to enjoy later life. No one should feel they just have to get on with it."

She added: "Isolation and loneliness can be factors in poor mental health and we also know from research that if someone has long term physical health conditions, like heart disease or diabetes, that is likely to trigger or exacerbate depression, impacting further on their quality of life and life expectancy."

For more information visit oxfordhealth.nhs.uk/talkingspaceplus or call 01865 901 222.