The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) recently developed a strategic plan,  Leading Change 2.0: Advancing the Behavioral Health of the Nation 2015-2018. Unfortunately, there is not a single mention of older adults in the entire report. Although there are multiple lists of underserved populations throughout the document, older adults are never listed. For example, even for  Goal 1.3, “Prevent and reduce attempted suicides and death by suicide among populations at high risk”, older adults are not included in the high risk list.  The recent death of Robin Williams highlights how older adults have the highest risk of suicide. In addition, although there was a recent Institute of Medicine (IOM) Report documenting the shortage of geriatric mental health workers, there is no mention of the mental health workforce shortage for older adults in Section 6 on Workforce Development.

Each of you please take a few moments to submit on-line comments so that your and geropsychology’s voices can be added to the hopefully sizable chorus of mental and behavioral health advocates for older adults asking for SAMHSA’s attention to this issue. To increase ease of submitting comments, Deborah DiGilio in the APA Office on Aging has received the permission of the National Coalition of Mental Health and Aging (NCMHA, of which APA is a member) to share and use NCMHA draft comments on the plan (pasted below). You can cut and paste or integrate any of the comments into your own (without needing to cite them).   The NCMHA comments are written to match the format of the online comment form; there are boxes for overall comments and the six strategic initiatives:  Prevention of Substance Abuse and Mental Illness, Health Care and Health Systems Integration, Trauma and Justice, Recovery Support, Health Information Technology, and Workforce Development. So, information can be easily cut and pasted directly from the letter into the online comment form if desired.   The deadline for comments is Monday, August 18th.

The Plan can be downloaded and viewed, and the comments input at:

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