On November 6, 2007, Linda Shumaker, of the Pennsylvania Behavioral Health and Aging Coalition, noted in an email message to coalition members the introduction on November 2, 2007, of two "resolutions" in the Senate relating to special situations of seniors --suicide and mental health treatment.
It would direct the Joint State Government Commission "to establish a task force to enlist the help of knowledgeable persons to develop eductional materials to identify elderly persons at risk for suicide and to identify barriers and ways to surmount barriers encountered by professionals and nonprofessionals in connecting at-risk persons with appropriate resources."
- Health care professionals.
- Mental health advocacy groups.
- Counties which have implemented gatekeeper programs.
- Senior advocacy groups.
- Senior peer support groups.
- Meals-on-wheels volunteers.
- Senior center personnel.
- Area agencies on aging personnel.
- Utility postal service and police personnel
Its report would be due one year after adoption of SR 204.
According to the history for proposed SR 204, it was referred to the Senate Committee on Aging & Youth.
- A review of the availability of community-based outpatient and inpatient mental health services across this Commonwealth.
- Evidence-based practices within the mental health system and in primary care settings.
- The availability of mental health services in the continuum of long-term care.
- Statistical information on the number of older adults needing mental health services.
- A survey of the number of section 302 and 304 commitment petitions filed under the act of July 9, 1976 (P.L.817, No.143), known as the Mental Health Procedures Act, along with an assessment of those petitions resulting in treatment or continued treatment and the treatment period.
- The timeliness and extent of mental health services provided.
- The costs for various types of mental health services for older adults.
- The extent to which public and private insurance, including medical assistance and Medicare, provide coverage for the different mental health treatments and services.
- Gaps in mental health services among older adults.
- Coordination of services among State agencies, county agencies and local entities and providers.
According to the history for proposed SR 205, it was referred to the same Senate Committee for further consideration.
For background about mental health and related treatments, see: U.S. Surgeon General's Report on Mental Health, described in a Press Release, dated December 13, 1999.
Advocates, such as PBHAC, argue in favor of these proposed resolutions, in keeping with their mission. See: EE&F Law Blog posting, "PA Behavioral Health & Aging Website" (06/26/07).
In its suggested model letter urging adoption, as addressed to members of the Senate Aging & Youth Committee, PBHAC states:
SR 204 and SR 205 would assist policymakers, providers, and consumers obtain the information they need to diagnose and treat mental illness and substance use disorders among older adults in Pennsylvania as well as to develop and implement best practice evidence based early intervention and prevention programs to prevention suicide among the elderly. * * *The introduction of these two legislative resolutions evidences a growing awareness among elected officials for study of serious problems that will present in greater frequency as PA's population ages.