National Coalition on Mental Health and Aging
January 24, 2005

Sanford Finkel, Chair of the National Coalition on Mental Health and Aging (NCMHA), called the meeting to order. He welcomed the 20 members in attendance. This brief afternoon meeting followed NCMHA's 2005 White House Conference on Aging (WHCoA) Listening Session convened that morning.

2005 White House Conference on Aging (WHCoA)

The morning's WHCoA Listening Session focusing on mental health and substance abuse issues was very well attended. Sixty-six individuals participated in the Listening Session, including three members of the WHCoA Policy Committee, including its chair, the Honorable Dorcas Hardy, and members Robert Blancato and Gail Gibson Hunt. In addition to the NCMHA Coalition members and consumers participating in the event, five Congressional representatives attended including staff from the offices of: Senator Gordon Smith (Chair of the Senate Special Committee on Aging), Senator Hillary Clinton, Senator Jeff Bingham, the Senate HELP Committee, and Representative Patrick Kennedy.

All 17 NCMHA-member testimonies emphasized the urgent need for the 2005 WHCoA to give mental health the priority it merits during its deliberations and in its resulting policy resolutions. Testimonies focused on the fact that we know how to help older Americans with mental disorders but there are many problems to overcome related to early identification of mental health needs, the present lack of access to services and supports that are effective and acceptable for older adults, professional workforce shortages, and our failure as a nation to properly prioritize mental health and aging. Presenters also affirmed their support for the three NCMHA Mental Health and Substance Abuse Resolutions that were formally submitted to the WHCoA at the Session.

It was felt that the Listening Session was very good and that the targeted presentations reinforcing the NCMHA Resolutions, and speaking with a united voice was important. The Policy Committee told attendees that it is also important to raise the mental health and substance abuse issue within the context of other WHCoA sanctioned events that are not specific to mental health (e.g. the scheduled long term care mini-conference). Additional NCMHA follow-up activities related to the WHCoA, including providing information to delegates, will be discussed at our next meeting.

All NCMHA Listening Session presentations will be posted on

Application for Membership

The application for NCMHA membership by the Geriatric Mental Health Alliance of New York was accepted by the Coalition.

Member Updates

National Association of State Units on Aging - Sara Aravanis: Dan Quirk, Executive Director, testified at the first WHCoA Listening Session sponsored by the Leadership Council of Aging Organizations (LCOA). NASUA is actively involved with LCOA on WHCoA efforts. They are encouraging the Policy Committee to increase the number of delegates governors can appoint.

American Association of Geriatric Psychiatry - Stephanie Reed: The Geriatric Mental Health Foundation, the Older Adult Consumers Mental Health Alliance, and the University of California, San Diego, will host a WHCoA official event at their March meeting in San Diego. A white paper outlining barriers to access of mental health services and solutions will be developed and submitted to the WHCoA. There is great excitement on the part of consumers related to this event. She noted that a listening session is a rung up on the 2005 WHCoA ladder of sanctioned events from a mini-conference.

National Conference on the Aging Alixe Mc Neill: They will have designated WHCoA sessions at the NCOA/ASA March 10-13 meeting in Philadelphia. One will focus on the NCHMA WHCoA resolutions. There are other NCMHA-related sessions on the agenda including one on federal initiatives in mental health and substance abuse. NCoA has not yet endorsed the NCMHA resolutions as they are working with their Policy Committee to pull together a broad set of aging resolutions, including mental health that will be voted on by members at their March meeting. Mental health interested NCOA members should vote.

NIMH - Jovier Evans: He is the new NIMH project officer in the new Aging Branch. He has taken over the portfolio of Jason Olin and will represent NIMH on the Coalition.

Council for Social Work Education - Anita Rosen: The National Gerontological Social Work Conference will be held in February in New York City. Roundtables will be held on a variety of issues such as transportation and housing. They will submit resolutions resulting from these roundtables to the WHCoA.

National Mental Health Association - Sara Thompson: They convened a meeting of aging and mental health state and local agencies, along with their affiliates in Pennsylvania. The Mental Health Association of Southeastern Pennsylvania is planning a WHCoA mini-conference. NMHA are also providing technical assistance through their National Consumer-Supported Technical Assistance Center's grant programs.

National Citizens Coalition on Nursing Home Reform Julie Meashey: NCCNHR has taken part in another Listening Session in addition to today's. They are encouraging members to find out about opportunities in their states to provide input to the WHCoA.

Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law - Bob Bernstein: Bazelon recently initiated litigation related to two issues: The first is an advertisement for senior housing in the North Shore section of Chicago that specifically excludes seniors with mental health problems. The other case involves extending the reach of the ADA in the private sector.

American Occupational Therapy Association - Marian Shienholtz: AOTA has an older drivers' mini-webpage and is working on assessment and interventions to keep older adults driving through a NTSA grant. They are sponsoring a WHCoA sanctioned event in May at their National Conference.

American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists - Melissa Stamps: She will be the NCMHA representative from AAMFT along with Brian Rasmussen. She requested that marriage and family therapists be added into the list of mental health professionals specifically identified in the NCMHA mental health workforce resolution.

Older Women's League - Laurie Young: OWL has presented twice to the WHCoA Policy Commission in addition to today and they always addresses mental health issues. OWL cochairs LCOA's panel on economic security. As their annual conference is only two weeks before WHCoA, they are looking at options for input at that late date. The last week of May, OWL will have its third annual observance of Older Adults and Mental Health Week. They will host screenings using mental health and aging tool kit and conduct public education. Organizations can join as co-sponsors by adding their name, and participating in a variety of ways.

Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services - Peggy Clark: She raised the issue of government involvement in the WHCoA. It was noted that government organizations are represented on the WHCoA Policy Committee and staff have been commissioned from a variety of agencies to work on the WHCoA. A number of members indicated that there are no prohibitions against involvement and encouraged CMS involvement. She also discussed how education is needed related to Medicare Part D. It is important to do community education to inform older adults of these changes.

American Psychiatric Association - Maria Castillo and Rachel Audi reported that their Council on Aging is very active in a number of areas including suicide, long-term care, treatment of elderly with schizophrenia, and ethnic minority elderly.

Department of Veterans Affairs - William Van Stone: Both the Secretary and Assistant Secretary of Health support the current development of Veteran Affairs' strategic plan for mental health (a response to the New Freedom Commission on Mental Health) that is underway. It incorporates family, consumer recovery, stigma, and the integration of mental health into primary care utilizing a collaborative care model. Antonette Zeiss is heading-up the aging component of the planning.

New Hampshire State Coalition on Mental Health, Substance Abuse, and Aging - Todd Ringelstein (with the Bureau of Behavioral Health in New Hampshire): He reported that ten years ago the NH coalition sponsored a mini-conference on Rural Mental Health and Aging. They are currently organizing a follow-up mini-conference partnering with other state organizations, including the NASW/NH affiliate and the University. Stephen Bartels will be a speaker. Two hundred plus are expected for this June event.

American Psychological Association - Deborah DiGilio: In addition to coordinating the NCMHA WHCOA Listening Session, she is spearheading APA's WHCoA efforts. An APA Resolution on the 2005 White House Conference on Aging is working its way through the APA Governance structure to bring attention to this important forum. In addition, geropsychologists were nominated for the WHCoA's Technical Advisory Committee and a symposium will be held at the APA Annual Convention in August titled, Psychology and Public Policy: Contributions to the 2005 White House Conference on Aging.

National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors - Willard Mays: The second annual Indiana Conference on Mental Health, Substance Abuse, Aging is being planned. It is designated as a WHCoA event (as are similar events in Illinois and New Hampshire). Willard raised the issue of how do we involve state and local coalitions with NCMHA? Initially, they wanted to be autonomous, but now want more interconnection with NCMHA and among each other. It is particularly important with the WHCoA coming to reestablish a linkage with these state and local coalitions. Willard will look at the state and local coalition list and update with the assistance of NASMHPD information, so communication can be fostered. The NCMHA resolutions will also be shared with all.

2005 NCMHA Election of Officers

The initial two-year term of office and the allowed two-year consecutive term will come to an end in June for our officers: Chair (Sandy Finkel), Vice Chair (Anita Rosen), Immediate Past Chair (Willard Mays), and the two "at-large" officers (Bob Bernstein and Alixe McNeill). The role and need for the appointment of a Nominating Committee, as specified in the bylaws, was discussed. The outgoing chair (Sandy Finkel) always serves on the Committee. Anita Rosen and Alixe McNeill volunteered to serve on the Committee and to develop a slate of candidates to be considered at the June meeting.


The meeting was adjourned at 3:00 pm. The next meeting of the National Coalition on Mental Health and Aging will be held on Monday, May 2nd from 9:30 am 12:30 pm in the 6th Floor Board Room of the American Psychological Association.

Minutes prepared by:
Deborah DiGilio/Linda Burnette
Office on Aging
American Psychological Association