Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo (D-Endwell) announced Assembly passage of the Comprehensive Geriatric Mental Health Act (A.7672), legislation she co-sponsored that would develop new and integrated approaches for serving older adults with mental illness by:
- Creating the Division of Geriatric Mental Health;
- Creating a statewide comprehensive plan for geriatric mental health services;
- Creating the Interagency Council on Geriatric Mental Health to coordinate and develop an interagency plan to address the needs of older adults with mental illness;
- Establishing a Geriatric Service Demonstration Program to issue grants for elderly mental health service providers;
- Requiring the Commission of Quality Care to study the adequacy of services for older adults with mental illness;
- Requiring the Commissioner of the Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services to establish standards for alcohol and drug programs serving older adults with mental illness; and,
- Requiring the Office of Mental Health, Department of Health, Office of the Aging, and the Department of Education to jointly develop programs intended to create a well trained geriatric mental health workforce.
"Elderly people are frequently faced with challenges that lead to severe depression," said Lupardo. "As we grow older, we must tackle major life changing issues – financial problems due to limited incomes, the health care challenges of chronic illness, the death of loved ones – these problems can all too often result in serious depression and further disability."
According to the Geriatric Mental Health Foundation, fifteen out of every one hundred adults over the age of 65 in the United States suffer from depression – impacting 6 million adults. If treated, more than 80 percent of elderly people with depression have a full recovery and return to normal lives. Left untreated, depression can lead to disability, substance abuse, medical complications, and death.
"Caring for the mental health of our senior citizens should be a priority for all New Yorkers," said Lupardo. "This legislation would have a wide ranging affect on many of our residents – I urge the Senate to pass this important legislation quickly." The Senate bill (S.4742) is currently in the Finance Committee.