May 25, 2005

American Psychological Association Aapplauds Senators Clinton and Collins and Representatives Kennedy and Roslehtinen for Introducing “The Positive Aging Act of 2005"

WASHINGTON - The American Psychological Association (APA) applauds Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) and Susan Collins (R-ME), together with Representatives Patrick Kennedy (D-RI) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), for introducing "The Positive Aging Act of 2005." This legislation addresses the mental health needs of older adults by promoting models of care that integrate mental health services and medical care within primary care settings and improve access to mental health services in community-based settings.

In the 108th Congress, these four members of Congress introduced "The Positive Aging Act of 2004" (S. 2572/H.R. 4694). An earlier version of the legislation had been introduced by Representatives Kennedy and Steny H. Hoyer (D-MD) and by Senator John Breaux (D-LA). The bill being reintroduced today at a congressional briefing cosponsored by APA during Older Americans' Mental Health Week reflects a strong bi-partisan and bi-cameral effort on behalf of our nation's older adults.

"The collaborative care model at the heart of this legislation will go a long way toward meeting the mental health needs of our nation's growing population of older adults," explained APA's CEO Norman B. Anderson, Ph.D. "By reaching out to primary care and community programs, mental health providers will be able to overcome potential stigma and offer critically needed services in everyday settings."

Currently, people 65 years of age and older are the fastest growing segment of the U.S. population, and nearly 20 percent experience some type of mental disorder. It is estimated that up to two-thirds of older adults with a mental disorder do not receive the services they need. In fact, older adults currently have the highest suicide rate of any age group in our country.

The "Positive Aging Act" will address the mental health needs of older adults by:

  • Amending the Older Americans Act to:

    Provide grants to states for the development and operation of systems for providing mental health screening and treatment to older Americans lacking access to such services;

    Provide demonstration projects to offer mental health screening and treatment services to older Americans living in rural areas and naturally occurring retirement communities in urban areas; and

    Establish an office of Older Adult Mental Health Services within the Administration on Aging.

  • Amend the Public Health Service Act to:

    Authorize the Director of the Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS), within the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), to make grants to public or private nonprofit providers to conduct demonstration projects to promote the integration of mental health services in primary care settings and to support community-based mental health treatment outreach teams;

    Establish a new Deputy Director for Older Adult Mental Health Services within CMHS;

    Include older Americans, their families, and geriatric mental health specialists as members of the CMHS National Advisory Council; and

    Support projects of national significance targeting substance abuse in geriatric patients criteria for state plans under Community Mental Health Services Block Grants.

The American Psychological Association is pleased to join with these members of Congress to actively work toward enactment of "The Positive Aging Act of 2005."

The American Psychological Association (APA) is the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States and is the world's largest association of psychologists. APA's membership includes 150,000 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants, and students. Through its divisions in 53 subfields of psychology and affiliations with 60 state, territorial, and Canadian provincial associations, APA works to advance psychology as a science, as a profession, and as a means of promoting health, education, and human welfare.