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President's New Freedom
Commission on Mental Health


October 2-4, 2002
Meeting Minutes

Crystal Gateway Marriott
Arlington, Virginia

The President's New Freedom Commission on Mental Health met on October 2-4, 2002 at the Crystal Gateway Marriott, 1700 Jefferson Davis Highway in Arlington, Virginia. In accordance with the provisions of Public Law 92-463, the meeting was open to the public on October 2nd from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., October 3rd from 8:30 a.m.- 5:00 p.m., and October 4th from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., when the meeting adjourned.

Commissioners present:
Michael F. Hogan, Chair
Jane Adams
Rodolfo Arredondo, Jr.
Patricia Carlile
Charles Curie
Daniel B. Fisher
Anil G. Godbole
Henry T. Harbin
Larke N. Huang
Mark Johnston
Ruben King-Shaw, Jr.
Norwood W. Knight-Richardson
Ginger Lerner-Wren
Stephen W. Mayberg
Joan Mele-McCarthy
Frances M. Murphy
Richard Nakamura
Robert Pasternack
Robert N. Postlethwait
Nancy C. Speck
Randolph J. Townsend
Deanna F. Yates

Staff members present:
Claire Heffernan, Executive Director
H. Stanley Eichenauer, Deputy Executive Director
James Finley, Senior Policy Analyst
Dawn Foti, Health Policy Analyst
Kevin Hennessy, Senior Policy Advisor
Elaine Viccora, Senior Policy Advisor
Patty DiToto, Administrative Assistant

Presenters who attended portions of the three-day meeting were:
Stephen Bartels, M.D., M.S., Associate Professor of Psychiatry, New Hampshire-Dartmouth Psychiatric Research Center, Dartmouth Medical School

Gary K. Kennedy, M.D., President, American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry

Willard Mays, M.S., Immediate Past President, National Coalition for Mental Health and Aging and Past Chair, Older Persons Division of the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors

Hikmah Gardiner, Older Adult Consumer Mental Health Alliance

Bryce Miller, Older Adult Consumer Mental Health Alliance

October 2, 2002

Presentation: Older Adults and Mental Health

Stephen Bartels, M.D., M.S., Associate Professor of Psychiatry,
New Hampshire-Dartmouth Psychiatric Research Center,
Dartmouth Medical School

Chair Michael Hogan convened the meeting at 4:30 p.m. and welcomed Commissioners and members of the public to a presentation by Stephen Bartels. Dr. Bartels described the anticipated growth in the number of older Americans and the corresponding impact on the mental health service delivery system. By the year 2040, 1 in 5 Americans will be over the age of 65 with the fastest growing group being the "oldest old," or those people over age 85. It is anticipated that 20 percent of these older individuals will have some sort of mental disorder, including dementia, depression, psychosis, bipolar, schizophrenia or an anxiety disorder.

Dr. Bartels also explained the significant impact that the mental disorders of older adults has on health outcomes and health care costs. For example, studies indicate that older adults with depression have poorer rehabilitation outcomes after fracturing their hips while older adults with cancer and clinical depression also experience worse health outcomes. In addition, as older adults experienced more severe depression, their aggregate health care costs increased. Research also has found that older adults who have various medical disorders (e.g., diabetes) and are depressed experience significant increases in hospitalizations, emergency room visits and use of medication. Dr. Bartels pointed out that the Medicare system is already paying for older adults with mental health issues as a result of this increased use of the physical health care system.

The cost to human lives also is striking as suicide is a major health problem for the aging population. The suicide rate for those over age 85 is twice the national average. One study of older men who committed suicide indicated that one-third of them had seen their primary physician in the week prior to their suicide, suggesting that the primary care system is not identifying at-risk individuals and delivering preventive mental health services.

Dr. Bartels noted the lack of a defined system to serve older people. The "system" for older adults is loosely defined and encompasses a wide range of providers, including primary care physicians, aging network services (e.g., meals on wheels, senior centers), home care settings, nursing homes, and assisted living facilities. Yet, despite this wide-ranging system, mechanisms for providing mental health services are primarily designed for nursing homes and hospitals.

As a result, there are significant unmet needs among older adults with mental health problems. Less than 3 percent of older adults receive outpatient mental health treatment from specialized mental health providers. Only one-third of people with mental disorders living in communities receive any mental health services. In nursing homes, 65-80 percent of residents have a diagnosable mental disorder (e.g., dementia, depression, anxiety, and psychotic disorders); yet one study indicated that only 1 in 5 residents in need of mental health services received care.

Dr. Bartels cited several barriers contributing to the problem of extensive unmet needs, including systemic barriers (fragmented system with little communication among providers), attitudinal barriers (ageism and professionals' assumption that depression is a normal part of aging), financing barriers (mechanisms that incentivize institutional-based care), and the reluctance of older adults to seek mental health services due to stigma.

Dr. Bartels mentioned several effective and evidence-based interventions that address barriers, including conducting outreach in senior housing projects to enhance access, providing specialized consultation services in nursing homes to improve outcomes, providing psychotherapy and medication to older adults, and providing family and caregiver education and supports.

Dr. Bartels described several studies (PRISMe, PROSPECT and IMPACT) which are examining different strategies for integrating primary and mental health care to treat older adults with mental illnesses. Other innovative programs include (1) the Gatekeeper model where community members (e.g., meter readers, postal workers, bank tellers) are trained to identify older adults at risk for mental health problems, (2) outreach programs with multidisciplinary teams visiting urban housing developments and providing evaluation and treatment in seniors' homes, (3) caregiver support services which delay nursing home placements and have a positive impact on caregivers' needs, and (4) peer support services where retired people are trained to provide supportive psychosocial therapy to peers.

Dr. Bartels offered several recommendations to the Commission:

  • Address financing mechanisms. Dr. Bartels noted the difficulty faced by older adults seeking quality mental health health care and medications when Medicare requires higher co-pays for mental health services and does not cover psychotropic medications. Dr. Bartels urged the Commission to recommend expansion of Medicaid and Medicare waivers to reimburse for mental health services provided to older adults in the community and facilitate integration of mental health services into the primary and long-term care systems. He also recommended (1) "unbundling" case management services to allow those services to be delivered in homes and (2) broadening a Medicare mechanism that covers care plans and case management for people who are home-bound and /or eligible for hospice care and extending similar coverage to individuals with mental illnesses.

  • Promote evidence-based practices. Dr. Bartels urged that professional training around evidence-based practices for primary health care providers go beyond traditional education approaches (e.g., conferences, dissemination of guidelines). Innovative and effective training approaches could include decision support technologies, tool kits, and strategies that feature feedback/support mechanisms.

  • Address workforce issues. Dr. Bartels stressed the huge shortfall of clinicians trained in geriatric services across the health disciplines, including mental health clinicians. The lack of a trained work force compounds problems with access and quality of mental health care for older adults. Examples of initiatives to build a bigger and better trained workforce include nurse training programs and loan repayment programs.

  • Collaborate with caregivers and other supportive agencies. Dr. Bartels recommended linking with Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) and their caregiver support services. Mental health providers can collaborate with existing infrastructures (e.g., AAAs, senior centers) and enhance those services to include mental health screening, referral and treatment for seniors as well as caregivers.

During the question and answer period, Commissioners posed questions about training legal guardians to recognize and refer their wards with mental health issues, modifying funding streams to reimburse for services that older adults value (e.g., life skills training and activities and not simply talk therapy), and training primary physicians and front-line professionals on the unique needs of aging adults.

After thanking Dr. Bartels for a comprehensive overview, Chair Hogan concluded the session at 5:30 p.m.

A copy of Dr. Bartels' presentation will be available on the Commission's web site,

October 3, 2002

Panel Presentation: Older Adults and Mental Health

Gary K. Kennedy, M.D., President, American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry
Willard Mays, M.S., Immediate Past Chair, National Coalition for Mental Health and Aging and Past Chair, Older Persons Division of the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors
Hikmah Gardiner, Older Adult Consumer Mental Health Alliance
Bryce Miller, Older Adult Consumer Mental Health Alliance

Dr. Kennedy reminded Commissioners that older adults experience mental health problems as a result of illness, not as an inevitable part of aging. Among the 32 million older Americans, 5 million suffer from some form of depression, leading to excess health care utilization, premature mortality, unnecessary family burden, and complications for other health problems (e.g., cancer, heart disease). He urged giving top priority to the dissemination of science-based practices into real world settings to treat older adults more effectively.

Dr. Kennedy requested that the Commission:

  • Support pending legislation to enhance graduate training and the Positive Aging Act. He maintained that, if enacted, both initiatives would enhance service delivery by providing funding for training and demonstration projects.

  • Increase support for mental health and aging research. Dr. Kennedy noted that, while funding for NIMH's bio-terrorism research agenda has increased, funding for other mental health areas has been reduced.

  • Address the decreasing number of physicians trained in geriatric care. The trend of fewer physicians and other health professionals entering the geriatric field needs to be reversed through a multi-year agenda.

Willard Mays shared that the National Coalition on Mental Health and Aging includes 55 representatives from Federal agencies, consumer and advocacy organizations, and professional organizations. In addition, 30 states have state-level mental health and aging coalitions, many developed with support from the Center for Mental Health Services. He urged continued support for these coalitions, particularly as they begin incorporating the substance abuse and primary care systems.

In addition to promoting parity within Medicare, Mr. Mays proposed the following changes:

  • Maintain consistent national policies about Medicare coverage of mental health services. Mr. Mays discussed the example of Medicare coverage for people with dementia and the negative impact when the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) published regulations and the regional offices and state carriers subsequently reinterpreted those rules.

  • Address the reimbursement system with its disincentives for practitioners to visit and treat seniors in nursing homes who have dual eligibility (Medicaid and Medicare). For example, after spending two hours on a visit to a nursing home (including travel, discussion with staff, and intervention with patient), an Indiana psychologist would receive a maximum of $26 dollars after billing both agencies.

Mr. Mays shared how Indiana uses its Area Agencies on Aging as a single point of entry for seniors to apply for all services and utilizes PASSAR's mental health assessment to identify persons with a mental illness in nursing homes and ensures that they receive services. Finally, Mr. Mays urged that the Commission's Final Report to President Bush address mental health needs on a continuum of life basis and not refer to older adults as a "problem" akin to transportation and housing.

Representing the Older Adult Consumer Mental Health Alliance and the Mental Health Association of Southeastern Pennsylvania, Hikmah Gardiner shared her 63-year history with the mental health and substance abuse systems. After detailing how the systems frequently broke down, she urged that the two systems be tightly woven together and that psychiatrists and substance abuse professionals interact. Referencing Americans' biased attitude against elders, Ms. Gardiner pointed out that, while America is the richest country in the world, older adults are left with hard choices about paying for medication or food. She requested that the Commission do something for seniors who are unable to advocate for themselves.

Bryce Miller urged the Commission to remember "Nothing about us without us" and include older adults in their deliberations. Older adults with mental illnesses need education about how to deal with stigma, particularly self-stigmatization, similar to the education they would receive when diagnosed with diabetes. Given his 60-year history of having a physical and mental illness, Mr. Miller was acutely aware of the need for prescribing physicians to attend to side effects, drug interactions, and aging effects. Mr. Miller also cited the importance of peer support groups for older adults.

The question and answer period focused on housing opportunities for senior adults. Dr. Kennedy described naturally occurring retirement communities in New York where residents receive case management services. Currently financed through state and city funds, this program originally began as a Federal demonstration project. Mr. Mays suggested that the Olmstead initiative was an opportunity for mental health consumers to become involved with HUD planning. Commissioners and presenters also discussed room and board facilities which now serve as de facto housing programs for persons with mental illnesses, yet are not connected to mental health services.

In addition, Commissioners discussed (1) older adults entering the court system as a result of the process of criminalizing people with a mental illness, (2) the diverse aging adults population and the role of culture and ethnicity in designing culturally appropriate interventions, and (3) SAMHSA's development of a strategic plan on meeting the needs of older adults. Commissioner King-Shaw added that CMS was aware of concerns about prescription drugs for the elderly community and existing reimbursement schedules. The agency is trying to respond and make adjustments, hopefully in conjunction with Congressional action.

Work Session

Beginning at 3:10 p.m., Commissioner Robert Postlethwait facilitated the Commission's work session to discuss the outline for the Interim Report. The Interim Report, required within six months of the President's April 29, 2002 Executive Order creating the Commission, will describe the extent of unmet needs and barriers to care within the mental health system. Commissioner Postlethwait reviewed sections of the detailed outline, including the statement of overall findings, description of unmet needs, description of barriers, profiles of promising community-based models, and general recommendations. Each Commissioner was given the opportunity to offer comments and suggestions about the Interim Report outline during the work session. The following is a synopsis of those comments:

Commissioner Anil Godbole approved of the outline's format, maintaining it appropriately described the extent of unmet needs and fragmented services for children, older adults and minority populations. He expressed concern about the lack of focus on the mental health work force and its inadequate numbers, training, and infrastructure. He recommended that the field address the inertia, resistance, and/or lack of information hindering implementation of evidence-based practices through regulations, licensing, and reimbursement strategies.

Commissioner Nancy Speck supported the comprehensiveness, content, and tone of the Interim Report outline. The Interim Report will lay the foundation for the Final Report (due in April 2003), which will contain specific recommendations aimed at policies and practices.

Commissioner Ginger Lerner-Wren agreed that the outline reflected the themes the Commission had heard and discussed. She suggested that the Interim Report expand its discussion about the criminalization of persons with mental illnesses.

Commissioner Jane Adams commented that the outline did not capture the compelling testimony heard by the Commissioners. The Interim Report should have more of a human voice. Commissioner Adams also requested that the Interim Report address the need for (1) meaningful outreach to those people who are not even in the system yet, and (2) inclusion of consumer and family voices across all ages.

Commissioner Ruben King-Shaw cited the section on unmet needs and requested that "quality of care" be added to the mention of "access to care" for both minority and rural populations. He also recommended that environmental factors which affect mental health (e.g., poverty) be mentioned. He suggested that Medicaid, Medicare and SCHIP be viewed as positive vehicles for change and not just barriers as currently depicted.

Commissioner Steve Mayberg stated that the Interim Report should emphasize that treatment does work and that recovery can occur. Commissioner Mayberg added that "race and place" do affect access to and quality of care. Finally, system barriers include misinformation, miseducation, and stigma.

Commissioner Fran Murphy urged that the Commission address the dichotomy between the treatment of physical illness and mental illness. All providers need to assess and evaluate for mental illness, as well as physical pain.

Commissioner Henry Harbin recommended that the Interim Report adopt a strengths-based perspective and emphasize the mental health system?s strengths in addition to its challenges. Commissioner Harbin also requested clarification about the term "coordination" (e.g., clinical coordination? policy coordination? funding coordination?).

Commissioner Larke Huang also urged that the Interim Report communicate the passion of people who testified before the Commission. She recommended that the Commission address the issue of prevention and define more clearly which system is fragmented. She shared other Commissioners' concerns about work force development, including work force for racial and ethnic minority populations. Finally, Commissioner Huang suggested that the Interim Report identify the criteria used to select profiled community-based programs.

Commissioner Rudy Arredondo noted that the issue of co-occurring disorders was not addressed adequately in the outline. The Co-occurring Subcommittee expects to produce an issue paper in November, which will have strong recommendations for the Commission's consideration. Commissioner Arredondo also requested that the outline's current statement on cultural competence be strengthened and framed as a crosscutting issue.

Joan Mele-McCarthy (alternate for Commissioner Bob Pasternack) suggested that the outline mention linguistic minorities in addition to ethnic/cultural minority populations. She also urged more emphasis on school-based systems and integrated efforts among the child welfare, juvenile justice, and mental health systems.

Commissioner Dee Yates recommended that the outline address the private mental health sector, particularly the disparity between how mental illnesses and physical illnesses are treated.

Commissioner Dan Fisher requested that the Interim Report reflect the value of hope. He recommended an emphasis on peer support and collaboration among consumers, families and providers.

Commissioner Patricia Carlile urged that the Interim Report address both housing and homelessness, stressing the importance of having a place to live when seeking treatment.

Commissioner Charles Curie lauded the prominence of recovery in the outline. To strengthen the Interim Report, he suggested that the outline mention resiliency, place more emphasis on the criminal justice system, use the phrase "treatment, services and supports" to reflect the full range of interventions, and highlight practices that do not facilitate recovery (e.g., seclusion and restraint) yet are still practiced in various settings.

Commissioner Randolph Townsend urged that the Interim Report better address the issue of stigma. He recommended that the Commission coordinate the discussion about stigma with the need to educate the business community about the benefits of employing people with mental illness.

Commissioner Richard Nakamura stressed the importance of highlighting and bridging the gap between what is known and what is done in the mental health system. Citing from a recent Institute of Medicine report on suicide, Commissioner Nakamura relayed that 27,000 out of 30,000 suicide deaths were people who had mental illnesses.

Commissioner Robert Postlethwait echoed the desire to have the passion and reality of consumers and families' stories reflected in the Interim Report. He also shared concerns about the mental health work force's capacity and questioned the assumption that there is sufficient work force to translate evidence-based practices from science to practice.

After listening to the Commissioners, Chair Hogan summarized the concepts and recommendations to be incorporated into the final draft of the Interim Report:

  • Address the urgency of these issues in a personal way. Speak from the heart as well as the head. Include the need for outreach, engagement, and involvement of consumers and families across the spectrum of issues.

  • Mention that "access and quality of care" are more severe concerns for minority populations. Emphasize that cultural competence is crucial; quality of care is not possible without cultural competence.

  • Cite the challenge of accessing care for rural and super-urban populations. Determine whether the evidence base supports adding "quality of care" to challenges for these populations, too.

  • Reflect a strengths-based theme. Clarify that those people providing care and support should be seen as strengths rather than problems of the system.

  • Speak more compellingly about stigma, discrimination and criminalization.

  • Clarify the concept of fragmentation.

  • Include strategies for educating and incentivizing desired behaviors.

  • More fully address co-occurring disorders.

  • Mention the fundamental dichotomy in the system's approach to mental illnesses and physical illnesses.

In addition, Chair Hogan indicated that several ideas offered by the Commissioners warranted further study and discussion. In the coming months, the Commission will give further attention to:

  • strengths and opportunities within the current public and private systems

  • work force/service capacity (relevant for many populations, including children and families, rural, and older adults)

  • traumatic stress

  • issue of fragmentation (including mental health and substance abuse systems)

  • prevention across the continuum, including early intervention/resilience/universal prevention/targeted prevention

  • current mental health practices that do not work or support recovery

  • education of the private sector and business community.

Commissioner Mayberg moved that the President's New Freedom Commission on Mental Health approve the outline of the Interim Report with the comments, recommendations, and additions as discussed at the meeting considered for inclusion in the Interim Report. He also moved that the Chair of the Commission, Chair of the Interim Report Subcommittee, and Subcommittee members be tasked with the implementation and clarification of these issues for the Interim Report. After additional discussion, Commissioner Speck called the vote and Commissioner Townsend seconded the motion. The Commissioners unanimously approved the motion as stated.

After thanking Commissioner Postlethwait and members of the Interim Report Subcommittee for their efforts, Chair Hogan recessed the public session at 4:50 p.m.

A copy of the outline and the Interim Report (after October 29, 2002) are available on the Commission's website,

October 4, 2002

Public Comment

Dr. Hogan began the period for public comment at 11:45 a.m. Individuals who spoke and submitted written testimony were:

Gordon Raley, National Mental Health Association
Solomon Jacobson, McMana Incorporated
Caroline Coause-Ehlers, Rutgers University Graduate School of Education
Deborah DeGilio, American Psychological Association
Trudy Persky, Older Adults Consumer Mental Health Association

Work Session

During the final work session, the following Subcommittees provided brief updates on their activities: Children and Families, Criminal Justice, Evidence based Practice, Consumers, Housing, Older Adults, Interface with General Medicine, Employment, Medicaid, and Rights and Engagement. After some discussion about how Subcommittees could address the crosscutting issue of work force development, Chair Hogan recommended further deliberation during the coming months before reaching a decision.

Chair Hogan requested that the Commission approve the draft minutes from the September 11-12, 2002 meeting. Commissioner Speck moved to accept the minutes and Commissioner Huang seconded the motion. The minutes were accepted unanimously with one spelling correction.

Adjournment and Next Meeting Announcement

Dr. Hogan thanked all presenters and adjourned the meeting at 12:20 p.m. The next Commission meeting will occur November 12-14, 2002 in Los Angeles, California.


I hereby certify that, to the best of my knowledge, the foregoing minutes are accurate and complete.

Claire Heffernan
Executive Director
President's New Freedom Commission on Mental Health

Michael Hogan, Ph.D.
President's New Freedom Commission on Mental Health

These minutes were considered and approved by the Commission at its November 14, 2002 meeting and any corrections or notations incorporated into the text.

Last Modified 11/17/02

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