Mark McGowan

Mark McGowan

Minister for Education and Training; South West

    BankWest Seniors Week celebrations help beat the blues

    23/10/2005 12:00 AM

    Staying mentally healthy is a key focus for this year’s BankWest Seniors Week as more than 316,000 Western Australian seniors’ gear up for some 200 events organised around the State.

    Seniors Minister Mark McGowan said some seniors would not participate in the celebrations because they felt socially isolated or have lost interest in their usual activities.

    “Families and carers of seniors, and their service providers are best able to help older people recognise when they are feeling down and support them in seeking qualified help,” Mr McGowan said.

    “Some seniors and many in the wider community believe depression is a normal part of ageing, so they continue to suffer in silence.

    “We have to take away the stigma associated with depression and get the message out there that depression is not a normal part of ageing and it is treatable.”

    As a first step in raising public awareness, the Office for Seniors Interests and Volunteering has produced a topic sheet ‘Staying Mentally Healthy - Ways to help an older person who is feeling down’.

    It targets seniors’ families, friends, carers, health professionals and service providers to help them in recognising symptoms and how they can help.

    “One in five people will experience depression in their lives and an estimated 19,000 WA seniors are living with some degree of depression,” Mr McGowan said.

    “An older person may be depressed if they have prolonged feelings of sadness and/or have lost interest in their usual activities; they may be moody and not sleeping well.

    “Physical exercise is one of the best ways to ward off mild depression, build social networks and be generally beneficial, so BankWest Seniors Week offers plenty of opportunities.

    “This is all part of the Gallop Government’s commitment to protecting and enhancing our unique lifestyle and recognising seniors who have contributed, and continue to contribute, so much to our community.”

    The Government has committed $455,000 towards a depression prevention and awareness program for older people as part of “Generations Together: the Western Australian Active Ageing Strategy’ announced in May 2004.

    The topic sheet was produced following the recommendations of a scoping project report ‘Depression in Older People’. Copies of the report and topic sheet are available online at

    Seniors Week runs from October 23 to 30.

    Minister’s office: 9213 7000