Alliance for Aging Research President and CEO Susan Peschin, MHS, released the following statement to acknowledge the efforts of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the Administration for Community Living (ACL) for their success in establishing Older Adult Mental Health Awareness Day:
The Alliance for Aging Research thanks the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the Administration for Community Living (ACL) for establishing the first-ever Older Adult Mental Health Awareness Day. Increasing awareness is the first important step to improved detection and care for older adults.
Older adults with mental health issues are one of the most disenfranchised groups in U.S. society. They are stigmatized because of mental illness and also because they’re older. So, it’s a double whammy. Mental health services are often underutilized by older adults as they may be in denial, may not have adequate insurance coverage, or their other chronic disease issues may take precedence during a primary care visit, leaving their mental health unchecked.
More than 20 percent of older adults aged 60 and over suffer from a mental or neurological disorder, and the most common neuropsychiatric disorders in this group are dementia and depression, according to the World Health Organization. Substance use disorders with alcohol, illicit drugs and prescription drugs are also increasing concerns among older adults, along with chronic pain issues that may complicate treatment access.
We encourage the Administration and Congress to provide the needed funding for geriatric mental health and substance use disorder research at the National Institute on Mental Health (NIMH), National Institute on Aging (NIA), National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), and National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH); and for federal mental and behavioral health programs throughout the country to better serve our nation’s older adults.
About the Alliance for Aging Research:
The Alliance for Aging Research is the leading nonprofit organization dedicated to accelerating the pace of scientific discoveries and their application to vastly improve the universal human experience of aging and health. The Alliance was founded in 1986 in Washington, D.C., and has since become a valued advocacy organization and a respected influential voice with policymakers. For more information, please visit www.agingresearch.org.
Lauren Smith Dyer
Vice President of Communications