Most older adults experience positive mental health, and recent research suggests that past experiences of adversity may contribute to greater wisdom and resilience as we age.

Understanding and meeting our changing behavioral health needs as we age is vital to lifelong positive mental health. Older adults with mental health conditions are more likely to experience poorer health outcomes, disability, and frequent hospitalizations, with higher rates of nursing home admission occurring at younger ages.

The mission of the Older Adult Behavioral Health Network is to highlight and elevate the importance of behavioral health in Massachusetts to improve the lives of older adults and support community living.

The Older Adult Training Calendar - a statewide resource - provides information and registration links to trainings for workers supporting older adults with behavioral health needs in the community. The searchable calendar features both in-person and virtual opportunities.

Sign up to receive email updates about older adult behavioral health and related issues!

SIGN UP

Older Adult Behavioral Health Network

The Older Adult Behavioral Health Network (OABHN) (formerly the Massachusetts Aging and Mental Health Coalition) was established in 1999 to advocate for accessible and quality mental health and substance use services for older adults.

Membership in OABHN is open to all individuals and organizations serving the needs of older adults, including senior centers, Aging Services Access Points (ASAPs), mental health and substance use providers, faith-based organizations, advocates, and organizations providing housing, health care, and education - and, of course, older adults and their loved ones.

Funded by a generous grant from the Tufts Health Plan Foundation, MAMH supports OABHN in its efforts to promote older adult behavioral health advocacy statewide.

Workforce Development

OABHN promotes and supports an older adult workforce that is knowledgeable about behavioral health conditions and skilled to address them.

The Older Adult Training Calendar is a statewide resource providing information and registration links to trainings for workers supporting older adults with behavioral health needs in the community.

Archived webinars are available to help caregivers, advocates, and others gain knowledge and skills to better support behavioral health and wellness among older adults.

OABHN sponsors an annual conference and multiple training events on topics ranging from peer-led trainings on de-cluttering to support for care workers.

Public Education

OABHN uses the lens of Reframing Aging to educate residents of Massachusetts about the importance of addressing behavioral health for older adults.

Advocacy

OABHN members advocate with older adults, families, and caregivers for policies and programs that support older adult mental health.

OABHN members successfully advocated to create a permanent line item in the Executive Office of Elder Affairs (EOEA) budget for geriatric mental health. Through this line item, members successfully advocated to establish and then expand Elder Mental Health Outreach Teams (EMHOTs) to provide outreach, mobile mental health, and wraparound older adult behavioral health services.

OABHN members were key players in establishing the Massachusetts Elder Mental Health Collaborative, a subcommittee of DMH State Mental Health Planning Council that includes key state agencies and other older adult mental health stakeholders.

Community Participation and Outreach

OABHN participates in national and state coalitions supporting older adults and mental health. Our members participate actively in Dignity Alliance Massachusetts, which works to secure fundamental changes in the provision of long-term services, support, and care.

Through its outreach, OABHN seeks to elevate the voices of diverse older adults with lived experience to reduce stigma associated with mental health.

Helpful Resources

Recent research by the FrameWorks Institute summarizes public values, beliefs, and assumptions about "care work".

A new FrameWorks Institute toolkit, Talking Elder Abuse, re-frames the problem of elder abuse in order to build public understanding and support.

A new SAMHSA guide, Psychosocial Interventions for Older Adults with Serious Mental Illness, provides considerations and strategies to understand, select, and implement evidence-based interventions for older adults with mental health conditions.

A new toolkit by the Center of Excellence for Behavioral Health Disparities in Aging focuses on Utilizing Cross-Sector Partnerships to Reduce Behavioral Health Disparities in Older Adults.

Partners

OABHN members include Jewish Family and Children's Services, National Association of Social Workers, Massachusetts Association of Mental Health, Massachusetts Councils on Aging, Mass Home Care, Boston Medical Center’s Elders Living at Home Program, Boston University Center for Aging & Disability Education and Research, Simmons University School of Social Work, Awakening Excellence Adult Day Health, and many others.

Contact us

For inquiries about the network, its work or to get involved, please contact Project Manager Cassie Cramer.