Positive Aging Act Fact Sheet

Background

AAGP is a long-time supporter of the Positive Aging Act, which would improve the accessibility and quality of mental health services for the elderly.  The bill would provide mental health screenings, appropriate referrals for follow-up care and consultations, and the use of available evidence-based protocols for common mental disorders.  In addition, grants for community-based mental health treatment outreach teams would be available to provide services in primary health care facilities where older adults receive medical treatments, as well as adult day care centers, senior centers, assisted living facilities and other settings where older adults reside or receive social services.

In the 112th Congress, the Positive Aging Act was reintroduced in the Senate (S. 525) in 2011 by Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Barbara Mikulski (D-Maryland).  It is anticipated that it will be reintroduced in the House of Representatives later this year. 

In 2006, Congress included provisions of the Positive Aging Act in the reauthorization of the Administration on Aging to provide grants to states for the development and testing of model mental health delivery systems utilizing evidence-based protocols for the identification and treatment of mental disorders in older adults.  In addition, it provided for the development of multi-disciplinary systems for the delivery of mental health screening and treatment referral services for older adults and allowed the Administrator of the Administration on Aging to designate an officer to administer mental health services.

AAGP supports efforts to complete action on the Positive Aging Act by enacting provisions for grants to be made by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).  This action would create an important platform for SAMHSA to address the mental health needs of older adults.  Its provisions were included in legislation to reauthorize all SAMHSA programs that was drafted in 20078 by bipartisan leaders of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions; similar legislation was introduced in the House of Representatives in 2010.

AAGP Position

AAGP has been involved in the development and legislative history of the Positive Aging Act since its inception and has worked closely with Members of Congress and their staffs on the drafting of the bill’s provisions.  Its long-time bipartisan and bicameral support and sponsorship, as well as its inclusion in draft SAMHSA reauthorization legislation, are major steps forward in focusing attention on the mental health needs of older adults and advancing consideration of this legislation.

(March 8, 2012)