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Talking points aim to ensure older adults included

By Rena Malai, News staff

The National Coalition on Mental Health and Aging has developed talking points to ensure that older adults’ mental health is included in the national Community Conversations on Mental Health. NASW is a member of the coalition.

The talking points are important, because older adults’ mental health is often under addressed in discussions about aging and mental health, said NASW Senior Practice Associate Chris Herman.

“The goal of the talking points is to equip social workers and others to bring older adults’ mental health into the Community Conversations,” she said. “Discussion and action related to older adults’ mental health is essential to achieving the goal of the conversations — to educate participants about mental health and to develop action plans to improve mental health in their communities.”

The talking points include topics such as why older adult mental health matters and priorities for addressing the mental health needs of older adults.

Social worker Kimberly Williams, director of the Geriatric Mental Health Alliance of New York and recently elected chairwoman of NCMHA, played a key role in developing the talking points, Herman said.

The Community Conversations are part of the Obama administration’s National Dialogue on Mental Health initiative. The conversations began in July and have taken place, or are scheduled to take place, in many locations across the U.S. They are scheduled to continue at least through October.

Information about upcoming events can be found at creatingcommunitysolutions.org, Herman said.

“The website also provides information on how to organize an event if one is not yet scheduled in a particular area,” she said, including a tool kit developed by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

“NASW encourages members to participate in Community Conversations, using the NCMHA talking points, and to pass on both the NCMHA talking points and information about the Community Conversations to their colleagues and clients,” Herman said.

The National Coalition on Mental Health and Aging represents professional, consumer and government organizations with expertise in mental health and aging issues. The coalition’s goal is to work together toward improving the availability and quality of preventive mental health and treatment services to older Americans and their families.

The National Dialogue on Mental Health initiative reaches out to youth experiencing mental health problems, members of the faith community, foundations, and school and business leaders.

President Obama directed the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to launch the initiative in January 2013, calling for a “national conversation to increase understanding about mental health” after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn.

From the October 2013 NASW News.

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