Key Takeaways

  • Each year in May, the Older Adult Mental Health Awareness Day symposium is held as a free educational event for professionals.

  • The symposium is hosted by NCOA, the Administration for Community Living (ACL), the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) along with other federal and non-federal partners.

  • Learn more about the 2022 and 2021 events and see their impact in the evaluation reports.

Mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression, and substance use problems affect 14.5% percent of people over the age of 50. To bring awareness to this issue, NCOA hosts the yearly Older Adult Mental Health Awareness Day Symposium.

The 5th annual Older Adult Mental Health Awareness Day Symposium was held on May 16, 2022. This free event was co-sponsored with the U.S. Administration for Community Living (ACL), the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), and the E4 Center of Excellence for Behavioral Health Disparities in Aging. Novo Nordisk, Inc. also supported the event as a sponsor.

Older Adult Mental Health Awareness Day Symposium 2022 Impact Report

The 5th annual Older Adult Mental Health Awareness Day Symposium featured individuals sharing their personal mental health stories as well as those of caregivers and family members. The nine sessions also highlighted research findings on the state of mental health in older adults and promising programs and interventions.

The symposium ended with a call to action for all participants—to make at least one connection in their community to support mental health for older adults.

A few event highlights:

  • Over 3,800 people participated in this year’s symposium live—the largest audience to date.
  • CBS Sunday Morning host Jane Pauley served as the keynote speaker and set the stage by telling her personal journey with mental health
  • Up to 5.25 continuing education credits were offered at no cost to participants for multiple disciplines including nurses, social workers, and physicians.

The top event themes:

  • The importance of collaboration and communications across sectors to address mental health, with an emphasis on bringing services to older adults in a coordinated way
  • Leading with a person-center approach, listening and engaging with older adults and respecting their experiences
  • Meeting older adults with services where they are instead of expecting them to navigate complex systems and requirements
  • Understanding the impact of isolation on physical and mental health for older adults
  • Older adults are facing mental health challenges and substance abuse disorders, in some cases in disproportionate rates as compared to the rest of the population
  • Leveraging community partnerships, peer support and volunteers can increase capacity for mental health screening and strategies
  • Each of us can make at least one connection in our community and develop partnerships to improve mental health services and support for older adults

This report includes summaries and key takeaways from each session:

Watch recorded sessions on-demand at  https://connect.ncoa.org/oamhad-home.

More about Older Adult Mental Health Awareness Day Symposium impact

Year Summary
2021, Older Adult Mental Health Awareness Day Symposium

The 4th annual Older Adult Mental Health Awareness Day Symposium, the first hosted by NCOA, was expanded from the two-hour event of previous years to a full day and was held live online, 10 a.m.-5:15 p.m. ET. Nine sessions covered such topics as addressing ageism, what behavioral health access looks like in diverse populations, and the latest in substance use interventions. Some highlights:

  • The keynote speaker, Ashton Applewhite, discussed how we can take action to end ageism.
  • By the day of the event, 4,291 people registered, and 2,179 people attended at least one session live.
  • During the closing session, attendees were asked to make a pledge on what steps they will take at their office, home, and in their community to make a change based on what they learned during the symposium.

Download the report

This project was supported, in part by grant number 90CSSG0048 from the U.S. Administration for Community Living, Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, D.C. 20201. Grantees undertaking projects under government sponsorship are encouraged to express freely their findings and conclusions. Points of view or opinions do not, therefore, necessarily represent official Administration for Community Living policy.