Staff Members at The Institute for Geriatric Social Work Contribute to Groundbreaking New Report on Mental Health and Aging

Kathy Kuhn, MSW, LICSW and Caitlin Ryan, MSW, MPH, of The Institute for Geriatric Social Work (IGSW) at Boston University School of Social Work, collaborated with local aging and mental health professionals in the research and writing of the new report released by the Mental and Cognitive Health Committee of the Boston Partnership for Older Adults (BPOA). The report, Hidden Issues: A Boston Perspective on Mental Health and Cognitive Health and Substance Abuse Among Older Adults, addresses the unique needs of a rapidly growing older population in Boston and nationwide. 

          BPOA publicly released the report on January 23, 2007, at the Massachusetts State House at an event that drew more than 125 local service providers and public service officials.  Speakers included Emily Shea, Executive Director of BPOA; Roberta Hurtig, Executive Director of Samaritans of Greater Boston; Representative Ruth Balser; Secretary Jennifer Davis Carey; Commissioner Elizabeth Childs from the Department of Mental Health; and Kathy Kuhn, Director of Education and Training for IGSW.  

          The report documents the seriousness of geriatric alcohol and mental health issues, including stigma elders face, low rates of treatment for depression, and the high rate of suicide among older adults (higher than any other age group).  It outlines barriers to elders receiving care including lack of an integrated and prepared healthcare system, inadequate funding and lack of culturally competent outreach. It also makes several detailed recommendations for service providers such as an awareness campaign to reduce sigma, increased city and state collaboration around service provision, increased need for funding for geriatric mental health, and more preventative services.  

          The Mental and Cognitive Health Committee is comprised of aging, mental health, substance abuse and dementia care providers, advocates and consumers, and worked for several months to research and prepare a report. BPOA plans to distribute the report to Boston area service providers, city and state officials.  

          For a copy of the report, contact BPOA at 617.426.5124 or at