FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 13, 2015
A Community Comes Together to Prioritize QUALITY OF LIFE AND ECONOMIC VITALITY FOR CNY
SYRACUSE, NY—Stigma, stereotypes, and misperceptions. Cost, transportation, and mobility barriers to service access. Housing and other supports misaligned to the need. Vastly inadequate workforce and training. Systemic obstacles to the collaborations necessary to providing effective care in a highly complex arena. Underfunded priorities. Technology from, well, pre-tech days.
Aside from issues like these, nothing is preventing the Central New York region from tackling one of its most recalcitrant problems: the mental health of the region’s most vulnerable citizens – those over 60 – that safeguards them and the fabric of the society of which they will soon constitute some 20 percent.
On Feb. 23, from 8 a.m. – 4:40 p.m. at Hutchings Psychiatric Center, a broad regional coalition of individuals and agencies from a variety of disciplines and sectors will take the next step to reversing decades of on-again off-again attention to a key determinant of individual and societal well-being. The regional Geriatric Mental Health Initiative expects to welcome more than 150 people to its Phase 2 Action Planning Conference to systematically address the mental health needs of older citizens in Central New York. To feature best practice presentations by national expert Dr. Stephen Bartels from Dartmouth Medical School and summary reporting on the organizers’ CNY Needs Assessment study, the key activity of the day-long event will be facilitated working group discussions aimed at producing a set of strategic goals and action on the following topics:
- Developing alternative home- and community-based services
- Building a qualified mental health workforce
- Integrating mental and physical health
- Engaging political leaders and government agencies
“The American Geriatrics Society estimates that by 2030, there will be less than 1 geriatric psychiatrist to treat every 6,000 older adults with mental health and substance-use disorders,” said Judith Huober, Director of IMPARA: the Rodney and Marjorie Fink Institute at Menorah Park for Applied Research on Aging, one of the lead organizations behind the event. “Our region, even more dramatically underserved than the national norm, can congratulate itself that we are coming together to advance wellness strategies that keep the needs as low as possible, to eliminate silos and create interdisciplinary collaborations, and to enhance the capacity of a diversified workforce, as well as to position ourselves to advocate for governmental and funding policies that facilitate both prevention and treatment.”
Good mental health is a prerequisite to successful aging, according to current models, and the absence of behavioral and emotional wellness in later life is neither normal nor inevitable, according to psychiatrist Nanette Dowling, D.O., M.H.P.A., of Upstate Medical University and Hutchings Psychiatric Center.
“Society’s cost of caring for older adults with depression, anxiety, and other mental health disturbances rises as high as 250% of the usual expense, already high, of health care in later life,” Dowling said.
“Most of all, it’s the quality of life for CNY’s seniors that drives our Initiative,” said Kim Armani, Ph.D., founding Director of SUNY Oswego’s Active Aging and Community Engagement Center (AACE), anothher of the lead organizations. “We all stand to benefit – family and friends; providers; the community; and seniors who will ultimately lead more rewarding and enjoyable lives through early recognition and treatment of depression and anxiety as well as the development of a collaborative community network for dealing with these issues more holistically.”
Spearheaded by the AACE Center, IMPARA, the Department of Psychiatry at Upstate Medical University and the Hutchings Psychiatric Center, the Geriatric Mental Health Initiative kicked off in October 2013 with an awareness-building educational conference, keynoted by Dr. Bartels and attended by close to 200 interested professionals and private citizens from across the region.
As the core organizers carried out a needs assessment study funded by the Health Foundation for Western and Central New York, key stakeholders came together as a Steering Committee from a broad cross-section across the CNY region including clinicians, academics, government and public policy experts, and aging and social services professionals, to help the Initiative move from its awareness building / education and data collection / analysis phases into the strategic planning phase that begins at the Feb. 23 conference.
The Initiative’s outside mentor and repeat keynote speaker for the Action Planning Conference is Stephen Bartels, M.D., M.S., a nationally-recognized geriatric psychiatrist who is the Herman O. West Professor of Geriatrics, Professor of Psychiatry, Professor of Community & Family Medicine at Dartmouth Medical School, and Professor of Health Policy at The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice. He is the Director of Dartmouth Centers for Health and Aging where he oversees the Dartmouth Center for Aging Research, the Northern New England Geriatric Education Center, and the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Aging Resource Center.
Bartels’s research has focused on developing, testing, and implementing interventions as related to the intersection between physical and mental disorders in older adults, including health care management, health promotion interventions for obesity in adults with mental disorders, integration of mental health and primary care, self-management, applied use of telehealth technology for co-occurring physical and mental health disorders, shared decision-making, community-based implementation research, and evidence-based geriatric psychiatry. Preparing the future healthcare workforce for older adults with mental disorders is another key concern driving his teaching, research, and national advocacy.
Bartels will be joined by John Toner, EdD, PHD, and Mark Nathanson, M.D., co-Directors of the Statewide Geriatric Psychiatry Residency/Fellowship Program at the Columbia University Stroud Center, who will co-facilitate the workforce issues work group. Steering Committee members also facilitating are Maria Brown, Ph.D., of Syracuse University’s Aging Studies Institute in the Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics, and Michael Massurin, of At Home Independent Living, who will co-facilitate the group addressing community-based issues and solutions; Mat Roosa, ACSW, LCSW-R, Director of Planning and Quality Improvement for the Onondaga County Department of Adult and Long Term Care Services, and Christine Decker, Program Coordinator of The Finger Lakes Geriatric Education Center Project of the Ithaca College Gerontology Institute, who will co-facilitate the group looking at the integration of physical and mental health care; and Robert Feldman, Ph.D., Vice President for Clinic Services at Liberty Resources will pair up with local luminary Chuckie Holstein, Director of F.O.C.U.S. Greater Syracuse, to lead the policy-related group.
IMPARA is located on the Menorah Park campus at 4101 East Genesee St., Syracuse, NY 13214. The AACE Center is one of SUNY Oswego’s research centers and is housed at the SUNY Oswego Metro Center at 2 Clinton Square, Syracuse, NY 13202. The Upstate Medical University Department of Psychiatry is at 713 Harrison St., Syracuse, NY 13210; and Hutchings main office is at 620 Madison St., Syracuse, NY 13210.
The John Ben Snow Foundation provided funding supporting the conference and other activities of IMPARA’s BeWell Initiative: Behavioral and Emotional Wellness Empowers Later Life. Event registration is required.