Explore these proven behavioral health programs for older adults:

  • Healthy IDEAS is a depression self-management program designed to detect and reduce the severity of depressive symptoms in older adults with chronic conditions and functional limitations. It includes screening and assessment, education, referral to appropriate health professionals, and behavioral activation. 
  • PEARLS is a highly effective method designed to reduce depressive symptoms and improve quality of life in older adults and in all-age adults with epilepsy. During six to eight in-home sessions that take place in the client’s home and focus on brief behavioral techniques, PEARLS counselors empower individuals to take action and make lasting changes so that they can lead more active and rewarding lives. 
  • BRITE is a substance abuse screening and intervention program for older adults who are experiencing issues with alcohol, prescription medication, over-the-counter medication, or illicit drugs. The program aims to identify non-dependent substance use or prescription medication issues and provide effective service strategies prior to an individual’s need for more extensive or specialized substance abuse treatment. \
  • Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP®) is an evidence-based manualized group intervention for illness self-management delivered in a self-help group context (in-person or online). WRAP guides participants through the process of identifying and understanding their personal wellness resources (“wellness tools”), and then helps them to develop an individualized plan to use these resources to manage daily stress and symptoms.
  • HomeMeds is a medication safety intervention focused on In-home collection of a comprehensive medication inventory, interview related to adherence and potential adverse effects (falls, dizziness, confusion), and documentation of two-position vital signs. The goal of the program is to resolve medication duplication and potential interactions.

See all evidence-based programs approved for use with Older Americans Act Title III-D Funding.

Highlights from the community

NCOA houses the National CDSME Resource Center to support community-based organizations across the nation in implementing, expanding, and sustaining evidence-based health promotion programs. Addressing mental health is an integral part of managing ongoing health conditions. The Administration for Community Living has been offering grants since 2003 for the expansion, implementation, and sustainability of CDSME programs. Grantees represent different entities in various states with goals and activities tailored to reach their target population.  

View profiles for each grantee with details on their goals, strategies, activities, interventions, partnerships, and anticipated results.

Type of Evidence-Based Program Participants 2010-2023
All Chronic Disease Self-Management Programs Over 480,000
Healthy IDEAS, PEARLS, SBIRT, WRAP Over 2,200
  • The University of Illinois at Chicago’s Center on Mental Health Services Research & Policy (UIC CMHSRP) was awarded a CDSME grant in 2018 to expand WRAP for older adults in the greater Chicago area. This well-researched program uses a prevention and wellness process that assists participants get well, stay well and make their life the way they want it to be. UIC CMHSRP developed an adapted version of WRAP tailored for older adults, for both in-person and remote delivery. This adaptation would not have been possible without ACL’s grant funding. UIC CMHSRP also created a manual for the older adult version of WRAP that is now available for broad dissemination. UIC CMHSRP increased the number of trained WRAP facilitators and implemented WRAP through collaborative partnerships with community-based organizations, senior housing sites, Veterans’ group and others during their three-year grant. The WRAP program was very well received by the more than 250 older adults who completed the program (80% completion rate).
  • Metropolitan Community Health Services (MCHS), based in Washington, NC, is a Federally Qualified Health Center that offers integrated medical, behavioral health, dental, and pharmaceutical services. MCHS offers a suite of CDSME programs, including the Chronic Disease Self-Management Program (CDSMP), Chronic Pain Self-Management Program (CPSMP), Diabetes Self-Management Program, and workplace Chronic Disease Self-Management Program. As part of their grant work, MCHS also integrates SBIRT as part of their regular practice. All patients seen at MCHS undergo the SBIRT protocol, a 2 question screen followed by a more comprehensive screen if indicated. Staff from the behavioral health department have been formally trained in SBIRT and the MCHS electronic health record (EHR) system has been augmented to better capture the full experience of SBIRT, from the initial screening to the in-house referral, to treatment, to bi-directional notes on attendance, and completion of services. MCHS has implemented a triangle model for SBIRT and behavioral health that consisted of three major interventions: Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT), Counseling, and Chronic Pain Self-Management Program. Patients identified from the Behavioral Health Department of MCHS are referred to this "triangle" and participate in CPSMP as part of their overall treatment plan. All MAT patients are referred to CPSMP or CDSMP and reimbursement pathways are formed. MCHS has successfully integrated referrals for SBIRT and CPSMP services into their EPIC EHR.
  • Pennsylvania Department of Aging’s (PDA) primary 2021 grant goal is for all 46 Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) serving 58 counties in the state to implement and offer Healthy IDEAS to all Pennsylvanians 60 years old and older in need of a mental health intervention.  Additionally, PDA is in the process of developing and implementing a standardized suicide intervention protocol for all AAAs to have in place, whether or not they are offering Healthy IDEAS. This is to ensure the staff at all AAAs can serve any older adult that comes into the facility feeling distraught and can intervene any suicide thoughts or attempts.
  • The Maryland Living Well Center of Excellence (LWCE) received a 2021 CDSME grant focused on leveraging state, clinical, and community partnerships to reduce depression and chronic pain. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the LWCE observed a sharp increase in risk of depression among older adults and adults with disabilities due to required social distancing. Through this initiative, Mac, Inc. is working with partners across the state to increase implementation of CPSMP, PEARLS, and EnhanceFitness as a coordinated intervention to reduce symptoms of depression and improve quality of life among older adults. As of 2022, 153 individuals had decreased depression scores on the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 following participation.
  • The University of North Carolina (UNC) Asheville received a 2022 CDSME grant that is focused on the North Carolina Center for Health and Wellness at UNC expanding partnership with several AAAs across the state to scale the work of the state’s centralized resource center for evidence-based programs- Healthy Aging NC. They will also pilot PEARLS to address mental health needs among older adults with goals to increase access to and utilization of CDSME programs and PEARLS, particularly by underserved older adult populations; improve mental health outcomes among PEARLS participants; enhance collaboration and sharing of best practices for program implementation; and leverage referral pathways from other programs and systems of care.
  • Rush University Medical Center received a 2022 CDSME grant that is focused on expanding the availability and sustainability of the WRAP program throughout the West Side of Chicago to support individuals with mental and emotional health issues, as well as to increase healthy discussions and challenge stigma of mental health issues. Rush will partner with the West Side Health Equity Collaborative (WSHEC) to integrate CDSMEs into the WSHEC’s Medicaid Transformation project, which includes almost 50 partners. 

The annual Older Adult Mental Health Awareness Day Symposium

The National Council on Aging is proud to host the 7th annual Older Adult Mental Health Awareness Day Symposium on May 2, 2024. This event is co-sponsored with the U.S. Administration for Community Living, the Health Resources and Services Administration, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Registration is free and includes a full day of sessions on how to best meet the mental health needs of older adults. In partnership with Rush University’s E4 Center of Excellence for Behavioral Health Disparities in Aging, NCOA is offering free continuing education credits for several professions.