There is a shortage of mental health professionals qualified to treat the unique needs of seniors.

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Serving senior is a program that proactively looks to assist senior citizens in low income situations that need mental health care. Here is a fantastic piece by Paul Downey 


Imagine sitting next to a senior and hearing the words, “I’m going to kill myself today.” Recently, this happened to one of our social workers. I wish this was a unique case; however, senior citizens commit suicide at higher rates than any other age group. They face a number of life changes that affect their overall well-being. Losing a loved one, lack of social support, memory loss or adjusting to physical body changes can all increase the risk of developing mental health issues.

Opinion LogoWith a growing population of older adults — 10,000 people are expected to turn 65 every day over the next 15 years — there is a shortage of mental health professionals qualified to treat the unique needs of seniors. There are only 6,000 geriatric social workers nationwide with a current need of 32,600. The demand is expected to double by the time all Baby Boomers reach age 65.

According to the American Psychological Association, more than 20 percent of adults 65 years and older meet the criteria for a mental illness. As the number of seniors continues to grow, so will the number of people experiencing mental health issues. Because mental health is essential to successful aging, it must be recognized and treated with the same importance as physical health.

At Serving Seniors, approximately one-third of our clients suffer from some form of mental illness — most commonly depression, dementia and anxiety. The majority of our seniors have incomes well below the poverty level, averaging just $850 per month. In conjunction with Sharp Mesa Vista Hospital, the mental health program at Serving Seniors proactively assesses and treats any mental health issue our seniors face. Our community-based services focus on outreach, education, assessments, treatment and social services. Without the appropriate care, provision of support systems and coordination with care providers, the chance of survival for seniors with a mental illness are slim to none.


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