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Behavioral Health Topics: Older Adults

SAMHSA’s Resource Center to Promote Acceptance,
Dignity and Social Inclusion Associated with Mental Health (ADS Center) Older adults tend to under-use mental health services for a variety of reasons, including social stigma, ageism, transportation problems, costs, and misconceptions about aging and mental health.1Beliefs that mental health disorders and treatment are shameful, represent a personal failure, or will lead to a loss of autonomy, lead many of those in need to deny having a mental health problem, or to refuse treatment from a mental health provider.2 Although adults 60 years of age and older constitute 13 percent of the United States population, their use of inpatient and outpatient mental health services falls far below expectations.Recognizing and treating mental illnesses among older adults is important. The rate of suicide among older adults is higher than that for any other age group – and the suicide rate for persons 85 years and older is the highest of all: twice the overall national rate.Reducing the negative attitudes associated with mental illness among older people can help save lives, help more older people lead fuller lives, and is particularly important in healthcare settings, senior centers and nursing homes, and families.



1 Mental Health Association of Southeastern Pennsylvania. (October 1999.) The Advocate.
2 Administration on Aging, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
3 Trudy Persky, Trudy. Mental Health and Aging, last referenced 6/25/07.



Resource Organizations for Behavioral Health issues in older adults:


IMPACT: Evidence-Based Depression Care
IMPACT is a research-based intervention for treating depression in older adults that includes collaborative care  between primary care physicians, mental health service providers, and others; depression education; and outcome management. The IMPACT Web site provides information and materials to help providers and organizations utilize the IMPACT approach. Information on tools, training, and implementation of this treatment approach across the U.S. is also available on the Web site.

Asset-Based Community Development Institute
Operated by Northwestern University, the Asset-Based Community Development Institute (ABCD) works with communities to identify individual and group assets and to use these existing assets to strengthen and empower communities. The organization's Web site includes research, publications, community stories, a discussion board, and other resources. Of particular interest to the mental health community, Hidden Treasures: Building Community Connections by Engaging the Gifts of People on Welfare, People with Disabilities, People with Mental Illness, Older Adults, and Young People is available as a "Downloadable Resource" under the Publications section.

Time to Change
Time to Change is England's most ambitious program to end discrimination faced by people who experience mental health problems. With 35 projects led by Mind and Rethink, the program is backed by international evidence on what works and has at its heart people with direct experience with mental health problems.

This nonprofit organization works to increase the ability of Australian society to prevent and respond effectively to depression.

In Our Own Voice
National Alliance on Mental Illness
Colonial Place Three
2107 Wilson Blvd., Suite 300
Arlington, VA 22201-3042
Phone: 703-524-7600
E-mail: saraho@nami.org
In Our Own Voice, a program of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, is a unique informational outreach program, that offers insight into the recovery that is possible for people with severe mental illnesses. The program aims "to meet the need for consumer-run education initiatives, to set a standard for quality education about mental illness from those who have been there, to offer genuine work opportunities for consumers, to encourage self-confidence and self-esteem in presenters, and to focus on recovery and the message of hope."

The Geriatric Mental Health Foundation
The Geriatric Mental Health Foundation was established by the American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry to raise awareness of psychiatric and mental health disorders affecting the elderly, eliminate the stigma of mental illness and treatment, promote healthy aging strategies, and increase access to quality mental health care for the elderly.

National Institute on Aging (NIA)
The National Institute on Aging, one of the 27 Institutes and Centers of the National Institutes of Health, leads a broad scientific effort to understand the nature of aging and to extend the healthy, active years of life. It provide leadership in aging research, training, health information dissemination, and other programs relevant to aging and older people.

The Senior Citizens League (TSCL)
The mission of The Senior Citizens League is to promote and assist members and supporters, to educate and alert senior citizens about their rights and freedoms as U.S. Citizens, and to protect and defend the benefits senior citizens have earned and paid for. TSCL's work often addresses mental health issues, including the stigma and discrimation surrounding mental illnesses.

The Center for Reintegration
609 72nd Street, Floor 1
North Bergen, New Jersey 07047
Phone: 201-869-2333
E-mail: reintegration@reintegration.com
The Center for Reintegration is a non-profit organization committed to helping people with mental illnesses pursue a meaningful life through reintegration– the process by which a person with a mental illness finds meaningful work, restores his or her relationships, and moves toward independent living. To help achieve these goals, the Center for Reintegration provides useful information and support tools for consumers, caregivers, employers, family and friends.

American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry (AAGP)
Staff and articles of the AAGP promote the mental health and improvement of mental healthcare for older Americans. The group respresents individuals serving the field of gertiatric psychiatry and is dedicated to the issue of stigma in caring for older Americans.
7910 Woodmont Ave, Suite 1050
Bethesda, MD 20814-3004
Phone: 301-654-7850
E-mail: main@aagponline.org

Administration on Aging (AoA)
The Administration on Aging (AoA), an agency in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is one of the nation's largest providers of home- and community-based care for older persons and their caregivers.
Administration on Aging
Washington, DC 20201
Phone: 202-619-0724
E-mail: aoainfo@aoa.hhs.gov

National Mental Health Information Center
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's (SAMHSA) National Mental Health Information Center provides information about mental health for users of mental health services, their families, the general public, policy makers, providers, and the media. It has an array of publications available to the public at no-cost.
P.O. Box 42557
Washington, DC 20015
Phone: 800-789-2647
E-mail: nmhic-info@samhsa.hhs.gov

Mental Health and Aging Web Site Advocacy Project
The Mental Health and Aging Advocacy Project of the Mental Health Association of SE Pennsylvania, provides assistance to older adults, their families and caregivers in obtaining mental health services specific to the needs of older adults.
Mental Health Association of SE Pennsylvania
1211 Chestnut St., 10th floor
Philadelphia, PA 19107
Phone: 215-751-1800 ext. 266
E-mail: ssaler@mhasp.org

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)
Colonial Place Three
2107 Wilson Blvd., Suite 300
Arlington, VA 22201-3042
Phone: 703-524-7600
E-mail: info@nami.org
The National Alliance on Mental Illness is the nation?s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to improving the lives of persons living with serious mental illness and their families. It has an extensive network of local and state affiliates that support the NAMI mission through advocacy, research, education. More info.