Policy Recommendations To Improve Mental Health Care for

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Policy Recommendations To Improve Mental Health Care for

Older Americans
Enhance opportunities for professional training in the psychology of aging at the doctoral and postdoctoral levels of education to address the growing number of older adults in need of mental and behavioral health services.
Expand basic and applied behavioral research at the National Institute of Mental Health and the National Institute on Aging. Increase funding for research training in geropsychology and for the widespread dissemination of evidence-based psychological treatment for mental health problems of older adults.
Increase the early identification and treatment of older adults with mental health problems through outreach and the provision of services offered in places older adults frequent, such as primary care settings, congregate meal and senior centers, residential settings, libraries, and other community sites.
Support legislation to increase the availability of and access to effective mental health services for older adults. Barriers to treatment include financial costs; lack of parity between reimbursement of health vs. mental health services; poor recognition and diagnosis of mental health conditions among older adults; lack of programs focusing on older adult mental health issues; reluctance of primary care providers to refer to mental health professionals; transportation; living in a rural or underserved area; and stigma.
Increase funding through Medicaid, the Older Americans Act, and the Community Mental

Health Services Block Grant to expand the availability of mental health and related supportive services to older adults.
Increase coordination of mental and physical health care. Because of the often-complex interplay of physical and mental health problems in older adults, interdisciplinary care is needed to provide optimal care.

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