CADER Behavioral Health and Aging Certificate and n4a University

Older adults with untreated behavioral health concerns have higher disability rates, poorer health outcomes and greater rates of hospitalization. Unrecognized, undiagnosed and untreated mental health issues are costly and can be lethal. To help Aging Network staff prepare to work in the area of behavioral health, Boston University's Center for Aging & Disability Education & Research (CADER) developed the Behavioral Health and Aging Certificate, currently available through the n4a University online learning platform.

This online training program addresses the core skills, knowledge and values that are needed to effectively identify and respond to older adults with mental health and substance use concerns, increase resilience and further the prevention of suicide. The five courses in the 19-hour online certificate include:
  1. Mental Health and Aging Issues;
  2. Substance Use among Older Adults;
  3. Mental Wellness and Resilience among Older Immigrants and Refugees;
  4. Suicide Prevention among Older Adults; and
  5. Alzheimer's disease and other dementias.
Across the Aging Network, this certificate has been a success by a number of measures. Most recently, the program received a “Promising Practices” award from the Mather Lifeways Institute for Aging. In the last two years, more than 400 AAA staff in New York and Massachusetts have completed this program and reported significant improvement in the following areas:
  • Use of evidence-based models to address substance use,
  • Ability to identify standardized screening and assessment tools that are appropriate for use with older adults, and
  • Capacity for describing interventions that can be used to promote mental wellness with older immigrants and refugees
Feedback from learners speak to the benefit of the program:
  • “This course was wonderful. The tools and information are very applicable to my work with older adults. The videos in this section were very well done. I have been working with older adults for most of my career, but felt this course really deepened my knowledge and increased my sensitivity in working with clients and families dealing with ADRDs.” Course: Alzheimer's disease and Other Dementias
  • “Very helpful for me as a protective worker. I found examples of how to engage and assess risk very helpful.” Course: Suicide Prevention among Older Adults
  • “I enjoyed this course most as it is an area that I lack greatest competence in since I do work in a more rural area. I'm glad to have received this information to better inform my future practice.” Course: Mental Wellness and Resilience among Older Immigrants and Refugees
According to n4a CEO Sandy Markwood, “Across our network, AAAs play an active role in developing and providing behavioral health programs. It is imperative that the AAA workforce is knowledgeable about these vital issues and programs and become leaders in providing effective and competent care. With the changes in the long-term services and supports arena, having a recognized skill set in the area of behavioral health will be crucial when working with managed long-term care, Medicare and other payers.”

Register for the CADER Behavioral Health in Aging Certificate

About n4a University: n4a University is a partnership between the n4a and the Center for Aging & Disability Education & Research (CADER) at Boston University. Featuring online training programs designed to meet the needs of AAAs, Title VI programs and their provider networks, n4a University uses a comprehensive, skill-based online training program to ensure n4a members have the knowledge and skills needed to meet the long-term services and supports needs of older adults, people with disabilities and caregivers in a rapidly changing world.



USAging Fact: Learn about your peers’ work—and how it can fit into your agency’s goals! The AIA Awards recognizes successful and innovative programs that USAging members have developed to serve older adults. Get inspiration from our 2023 winners!