skip navigation

Text Only | SAMHSA News Home

SAMHSA News - July/August 2004, Volume 12, Number 4

Older Adults

Countering Stigma

"A double whammy" is how Paolo del Vecchio, M.S.W., describes the plight of older people who have mental illnesses. "These older adults not only experience discrimination related to getting old, but they face the stigma associated with mental illness on top of that," said Mr. del Vecchio, Associate Director for Consumer Affairs at SAMHSA's Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS).

The stigma is compounded for members of racial/ethnic minority groups and residents of rural communities.

CMHS convened two roundtables early in the year with help from the Geriatric Mental Health Foundation and the National Mental Health Awareness Campaign to find ways to counter stigma. The events convened researchers, advocates, practitioners, media representatives, grant writers, and consumers of mental health services.

Roundtable participants began by identifying types of stigma. For example, older people are often afraid to acknowledge their own mental illness.

Participants also identified barriers, such as a lack of understanding, resources, and competent providers. In response, participants formulated a strategy that centers on a two-part awareness campaign.

One effort would focus on empowering older people with mental illness by educating them. "One of the ways to effect positive change is to engage more older adults," said Mr. del Vecchio.

A broader effort would use the media to send a positive message about mental health and aging to older people, their adult children, and the public. Recommendations include producing articles for use in senior center newsletters, briefing journalists on mental health and aging issues, and developing public service announcements.

SAMHSA will use the recommendations as the Agency starts planning a national anti-stigma campaign this fall. For more information, contact Paolo del Vecchio at End of Article

« See Part 1: Older Adults: Improving Mental Health Services

« See Part 2: Older Adults: Improving Mental Health Services

« From the Administrator: Mental Health for Older Americans

« Resources for Older Adults

« Targeted Capacity Expansion Sites

See Also—Next Article »

Back to Top

Inside This Issue

Older Adults: Improving Mental Health Services
  • Part 1
  • Part 2
    Older Adults—Related Content:
  • From the Administrator: Mental Health for Older Americans
  • Resources for Older Adults
  • Targeted Capacity Expansion Sites
  • Countering Stigma
  • Prescription Drugs & Alcohol Don't Mix
  • Increases in Substance Abuse Treatment
      Chart—All Admissions, 2001
  • Safety Tips on Medicines & Alcohol

    Stigma and Mental Illness: SAMHSA Raises Awareness

    SAMHSA Unveils Strategic Prevention Framework

    In Brief…
  • HIPAA Publication
  • Publications in Spanish
  • Children's Program Kit
  • ADSS Cost Study

    Behind the Numbers: SAMHSA's Survey on Drug Use

    For Many Youth, Summer Means First-Time Substance Use
    Related Content:  
  • Chart—First Time Substance Use
  • Young Drivers Report

    SAMHSA Releases Updated Directory of Treatment Programs

    Tip 40—Buprenorphine Treatment: Guide for Physicians

    Treatment Admissions Increase for Opiates, Marijuana, Methamphetamine

    Drug-Abusing Mothers Place Their Children at Risk

    Non-medical Use of Prescription Pain Relievers Increases

    Recovery Month Toolkit Now Available

    SAMHSA Revamps Agency Web Site, Improves Usability

    SAMHSA News

    SAMHSA News - July/August 2004, Volume 12, Number 4

    SAMHSA Contracts | SAMHSA's Budget | Employment | Site Map
     SAMHSA Home  Contact the Staff  Accessibility  Privacy Policy  Freedom of Information Act
     Disclaimer  Department of Health and Human Services  The White House  First Gov