Advocacy

Throughout the year, but especially during the session of the Maryland General Assembly, the Coalition engages in advocacy on behalf of late life mental health. Acting on Coalition consensus or in accordance with Coalition principles, Coalition representatives might testify on a bill and partner with other advocacy coalitions to influence the path of legislation.

When the General Assembly is not in session, Coalition members bring mental health concerns to the tables of workgroups, task forces and committees that impact and influence public policy.

The Coalition considers advocacy work to include educational outreach on the unique issues of mental health and aging to all members of our community.

The advocacy work of the Maryland Coalition on Mental Health and Aging is guided by the following principles:

  • Older Marylanders with mental illness should be considered a priority population with unique needs that require specialty assessment and treatment interventions.
  • Older adults deserve to have mental health services appropriate to their place of residence and respectful of cultural differences, physical health and functional limitations.
  • Mental health services to older adults must provided in the least restrictive environment to maximize functional capacity, independence and quality of life.
  • A specially trained workforce is required to meet the needs of older persons.
  • Caregivers of older adults are important team members who also need mental health support.
  • Mental health must be included in a coordinated system of care services to maximize identification of need and access to treatment
  • The citizens of Maryland must be targeted with education and destigmatization efforts addressing the myths and stereotypes of both aging and mental illness.

There are multiple barriers to the accessibility, availability and quality of mental health treatment for older persons across all systems. The Coalition employs multiple strategies to address these barriers and ultimately seek/s to:

  • Ease the disparity and burden of mental health assessment and treatment costs to older adults.
  • Ensure that older adults in state hospitals have the same access to community placements as do other age groups.
  • Decrease the risk of institutional placement for older adults with mental illness who live in community settings.
  • Ensure that older adults in long term care settings have access to necessary mental health services.
  • Advocate for mental health inclusion and interagency coordination among the various state and local agencies that address the needs of older adults.
  • Decrease mental health and aging service gaps across agency networks.
  • Develop a geriatric trained professional workforce to address the mental health needs of older adults in all care settings.