Spotlight on Innovation: Geriatric Mental Health (DGMH)

We're highlighting the cutting-edge programs and successful strategies used by the 2018 recipients of n4a's Aging Innovations Awards in this weekly spotlight feature. This week we're focusing on New York City Department for the Aging (DFTA), winner in the Healthy Aging category.

Since 2016, New York City DFTA's Geriatric Mental Health (DGMH) program has offered an onsite mental health model at 25 senior centers in all five of New York City's boroughs. The onsite model includes individual, group, family and couples therapy as well as medication management with bilingual/bicultural clinicians. This innovative program breaks down silos of care, embedding mental health in communities where older adults are most comfortable.
DFTA identified the growing need for onsite mental health services after its senior center directors identified a high prevalence of mental illness within their clients and indicated that they were ill-equipped to meet the needs of older adults who have mental illness. DFTA partnered with mental health provider organizations that are responsible for the hiring and supervision of the mental health clinicians embedded in the senior centers. As a result of this partnership, several of these provider organizations have established their senior centers as Article 31 Satellite Mental Health Clinics and can therefore bill for clinical services. DFTA also partnered with other New York City governmental agencies and the Mayor's office through ThriveNYC, a large-scale New York City mental health initiative. 
Since the program's creation, more than 46,420 older adults have been reached in the 25 senior centers. Of 1,166 older adults screened, 55 percent have scored positively for mental health problems on one or more of the assessment measures. As a result of the program, more older adults in New York City are receiving the mental health care they need.
To learn more about this year's winners, read our press release and check out our book of winners to learn how your agency can implement this or similar programs in your community!




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 2024 winners!