Mental Health America Joins in Supporting Positive Aging Act
Mental Health America has joined with a number of organizations in expressing support for the Positive Aging Act, which will be introduced by Senators Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine).
The Positive Aging Act takes an important step toward improving access to quality mental and behavioral health care for older adults by integrating mental health services in primary care and community settings where older adults reside and receive services. By supporting collaboration between interdisciplinary teams of mental health professionals and other providers of health and social services, this legislation promotes an integrated approach to addressing the health and well being of our nation’s growing older adult population.
An estimated 20 percent of community-based older adults in the U.S. have a mental health problem. These disorders can have a significant impact on both physical and mental health, often leading to increases in disease, disability, and mortality. In fact, men age 85 and older currently have the highest rates of suicide in our country and depression is the foremost risk factor. Evidence suggests that up to 75 percent of older adults who die by suicide have visited a primary care professional within 30 days of their death. Although effective treatments exist, the mental health needs of many older Americans go unrecognized and untreated because of poorly integrated systems of care to address the physical and mental health needs of seniors.