Behavioral health is the promotion of mental health and well-being, the treatment of mental and substance use disorders, and the support of those who experience and/or are in recovery from these conditions.
Anyone, regardless of age or ability, can experience a behavioral health condition, such as depression, substance misuse, or suicidal thoughts. Behavioral health problems are not a normal part of aging or of living with a disability, but older people and people with disabilities are less likely to receive mental health treatment.
Knowing the signs of behavioral health problems and the resources available can lead to faster diagnosis and treatment and help prevent social isolation, increased disability, and other complications.
Through its Aging and Disability Networks, ACL offers a wide range of resources to help older adults, people with disabilities, families, caregivers, and communities support behavioral health and well-being.
The following resources from ACL, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), the National Council on Aging (NCOA), and others offer a range of information on behavioral health topics.
Training and Toolkits
- Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support in Schools (Florida PBIS). Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support (PBIS) is an approach to supporting student behavior.
- Promoting Emotional Health and Preventing Suicide: A Toolkit for Senior Centers (SAMHSA). This toolkit helps senior centers integrate suicide prevention into activities that support well-being.
- Linking Older Adults with Medication, Alcohol, and Mental Health Resources (SAMHSA). For service providers, this toolkit offers guides, curricula, and more on mental health and substance use.
- Oral Health, Mental Health, and Substance Use Treatment Toolkit (National Council for Mental Wellbeing)
- Behavioral Health Promotion and Suicide Prevention for Older Adults (Human Services Research Institute). A training developed for person-centered counseling professionals of ADRC/No Wrong Door grantees.
- VA Community Provider Toolkit (U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs) is a resource for health care professionals working with Veterans outside of the VA health care system. This site offers information and tools relevant to veterans’ mental health and well-being curated especially for community providers.
- Suicide Prevention Competencies for Faith Leaders: Supporting Life Before, During, and After a Suicidal Crisis (SAMHSA) Provides faith-based leaders with feasible, practical, research-based actions they can adopt immediately to help save lives and restore hope in faith communities nationwide.
- Rural Suicide Prevention Toolkit. The toolkit compiles evidence-based and promising models and resources to support organizations implementing suicide prevention programs in rural communities across the United States.
- First Responder Training— Free modules from SAMHSA Disaster Technical Assistance Center to improve understanding of behavioral health effects of disasters and emergency response
- Older Veteran Behavioral Health Resource Inventory (U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and multiple federal agency partners) This inventory provides information on resources to help health and social service professionals support older veterans and other older adults who have or are at risk for behavioral health conditions.
- Fact Sheet: Opioids and Older Adults (ACL)
- Issue Brief: The Opioid Public Health Emergency and Older Adults (ACL)
- A Guide to Using Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Services (SAMHSA, CMS)
- Fact Sheet: Chronic Illness and Mental Health (NIMH)
- A Day in the Life of Older Adults: Substance Use Facts (SAMHSA)
- Growing Older: Providing Integrated Care for an Aging Population (SAMHSA, HRSA)
- Fact Sheet: Improving Services for Older Americans: Emerging Factors
- Integrated Care for Older Adults with Serious Mental Illness and Medical Comorbidity: Evidence-Based Models and Future Research Directions (MHTTC)
- Good Mental Health is Ageless (SAMHSA)
- Improving Community Options for Older Adults (NASMHPD)
- Older Adult Peer Support: Finding a Source for Funding (NASMHPD)
- Weaving a Community Safety Net to Prevention Older Adult Suicide (NASHPD)
Behavioral Health Profiles
The following profiles help communities identify focus areas, select goals, and target services to address priority issues for older adults. They compare state trends with those in the region and the nation.
- Region I (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont)
- Region II (New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands)
- Region III (Delaware, District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia)
- Region IV (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee)
- Region V (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Wisconsin)
- Region VI (Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas)
- Region VII (Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska)
- Region VIII (Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, Wyoming)
- Region IX (Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, American Samoa, FSM, CNMI, Guam, Marshall Islands, Republic of Palau)
- Region X (Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, Washington)
Archived Event Materials
- Older Adult Mental Health Awareness Day (ACL, SAMHSA, HRSA, and NCOA; May 16, 2022)
- Social Isolation and Loneliness Among Older Americans during COVID-19: Evidence, Policy, and Advocacy (NCOA, 2020)
- Solutions to Behavioral Health Workforce Shortages and Lack of Funding (NCMHA, 2020)
- Home and Community-Based Mental Health Services: Meeting the Needs of Older Adults (NCMHA, 2020)
- Fostering Peer Support to Address Behavioral Health Needs Among Older Adults (NCOA, 2020)
- Using Motivational Interviewing to Improve Outcomes for Older Adults (NCOA, 2020)
- Older Adult Mental Health Awareness Day 2020 (SAMHSA and ACL, 2020)
- Exploring Evidence-Based Programs to Address Depression in Community-Based Settings (NCOA, 2019)
- Engage, Assess, Treat: Strategies for the Aging Network to Address Behavioral Health (NCOA, 2019)
- Exploring Strategies to Engage Veterans in Community-Based Health Promotion Programs (NCOA, 2018)
- Using Motivational Interviewing to Improve Health Outcomes Among Older Adults (NCOA, 2018)
- A Spotlight on Older Adults and Behavioral Health (NCOA, 2017)
- Using the Senior Reach Program to Address Risk Factors for Suicide Among Older Adults (NCOA, 2017)
- Poster Symposium: Behavioral Supports & Mental Health (AUCD, 2016)