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Department of Aging Receives Grant to Expand Its Healthy IDEAS Program to Address Depression in Older Adults


Harrisburg, PAThe Pennsylvania Department of Aging today announced it has received a three-year $270,295 grant from the Administration of Community Living (ACL) to expand its Healthy IDEAS (Identify Depression and Empowering Activities for Seniors) Program within Pennsylvania's Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) to better identify and address depression symptoms among older adults.

Pennsylvania is the first state to independently train and administer the Healthy IDEAS program, an evidence-based depression self-management program that brings together the aging network and the mental/behavioral health community to achieve significant benefits for older adults and their families who may be dealing with depression. The competitive federal grant will support this initiative.

The program is integrated into the AAAs' existing aging services. It is conducted by trained staff either in-person in an older adult's home, or by telephone or video chat, over a three- to
six-month period. The AAAs partner with local health and mental health care providers to facilitate referrals.

"Despite the progress being made with COVID-19 vaccine availability and restrictions being lifted, there still is ongoing concern about the need to assess and support the mental health needs of older adults. They may still have feelings of anxiety, loneliness and social isolation due to the impact of mitigation orders over the past year," Secretary of Aging Robert Torres said. "This ACL grant allows the department to increase the capacity of our aging network to assist more seniors and strengthen relationships with community behavioral health resources and medical providers throughout the commonwealth." 

The following AAAs are currently offering the program:

  • Blair Senior Services, Inc.
  • Clearfield County AAA, Inc.
  • Lackawanna County AAA
  • Montgomery County Office of Senior Services
  • Philadelphia Corporation for Aging (PCA)
  • Pike County AAA
  • Southwestern PA AAA, Inc. (Washington/Fayette/Green Counties)

The first training under the grant for the Healthy IDEAS program has been conducted for Indiana County Aging Services, Inc. and new staff members at the other AAAs currently offering the program.

The Department of Aging launched the Healthy IDEAS program in 2018. It expanded in 2020 in accordance with Governor's Wolf's "Reach Out PA: Your Mental Health Matters," a focused multi-agency effort and anti-stigma campaign aimed at expanding resources and comprehensive support of mental health and related health care priorities in Pennsylvania. Under this initiative, the department led two roundtable discussions aimed at reducing stigma and understanding mental health issues and service needs of older adults and individuals with disabilities.

Learn more about the various programs offered by the Pennsylvania Department of Aging here.


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