Oct 18, 2022

MAMH’s Older Adult Behavioral Health Network led a successful advocacy campaign to more than double state funding for mental health outreach and support programs for older adults, resulting in 18 grants awarded to improve older adult access to behavioral health support.

New Elder Mental Health Outreach Team and Behavioral Health Innovation Grant awardees announced

With your help, MAMH’s Older Adult Behavioral Health Network led a successful advocacy campaign to more than double the amount in the Executive Office of Elder Affairs (EOEA) Geriatric Mental Health Line Item. This funding resulted in 18 grants awarded by the MA Council on Aging (MCOA) to improve older adult access to behavioral health support. Four of these grants will be used to start new Elder Mental Health Outreach Team (EMHOT) programs, four will be used to expand existing EMHOT programs, and 10 will be used to test innovative older adult behavioral health practices. Congratulations to the EMHOT and Behavioral Health Innovation Grant awardees:

EMHOT awardees:

City of New Bedford

Community Counseling of Bristol County

Elder Services of Worcester Area

Greater Boston Chinese Golden Age Center

Old Colony Elder Services

Tewksbury Council on Aging

Tri-Valley Elder Services

WestMass ElderCare

Behavioral Health Innovation awardees:

Chelmsford Council on Aging

Dennis Council on Aging

Elder HealthCare Disparities Coalition

Hull Council on Aging

Ludlow Council on Aging

Northeast Independent Living Program

Randolph Elder Services

Somerville-Cambridge Elder Services

Southeast Center for Independent Living

What is an Elder Mental Health Outreach Team (EMHOT)?

EMHOTs provide assessment, short term counseling, resources, and referrals for older adults in the community. By providing supports at home, by phone or in a local senior center, EMHOTS are able to overcome behavioral health treatment barriers associated with aging.

“EMHOTs are uniquely able to connect older adults to the additional community supports, resources and services that they need to address the broader factors associated with behavioral health issues, such as chronic diseases, social isolation, housing insecurity, and financial challenges- this connectivity is why the work of the EMHOTs is successful”
Betsy Connell, MCOA Executive Director

Helping to fill in the gaps for people who are slightly above the income/asset limit for MassHealth, EMHOTs can serve all older adults in their service area, regardless of insurance status. They do not require Department of Mental Health eligibility or that participants identify as having a mental health diagnosis. In the last reporting period (January 1, 2022 to June 30, 2022) EMHOTs provided 4481 hours of counseling and wrap around supports including: case management, discharge planning, family and caregiver support, financial support, peer support, transportation, and resource management (i.e. food and/or medication delivery).

"EMHOTs often take referrals from Elder Protective Services to help people who are most at risk. They help people who are facing eviction to stabilize their housing; they help people who are facing life-threatening medical conditions alone to undergo treatment and get connected to social support," said Cassie Cramer, Project Manager Older Adult Behavioral Health Network and Senior Clinician, Somerville Cambridge Elder Services. "They are a lifeline for many people.”

What cities/towns are served by EMHOTS?

Due to the advocacy of the Older Adult Behavioral Health Networks Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Workgroup, RFP applicants were asked to demonstrate their ability to provide services to underserved populations. Awardees like the Greater Boston Chinese Golden Age Center and the Brockton Based Old Colony Elder Services EMHOT teams reflect this cultural and linguistic capacity.

"Access and inclusivity should be mutually attainable for all. Unfortunately, entry doesn’t currently lead to inclusion. Many Black older adults continue to experience systemic, pervasive, and historic health and economic disparities that have serious implications for their lives," said Ronald Lammy, OABHN DEI Workgroup member and President & CEO of the Elder Health Care Disparities Coalition. "While encountering persistent disappointments and grappling with bewilderment, we are paving the path of resilience and transformation."

“Many Black older adults continue to experience systemic, pervasive, and historic health and economic disparities that have serious implications for their lives.”
Ronald Lammy OABHN DEI Workgroup member and President of Elder Health Care Disparities Coalition

The new EMHOTS will join an existing pool of nine regional Elder Mental Health Outreach Teams, which currently cover 127 communities in Massachusetts, and are based in Amesbury, Bellingham, Boston, Dudley, Greenfield, Lowell, New Bedford, Pittsfield and Somerville/Cambridge.

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