Catalyst Awardee

Project Description

CARS Silver: Mental Health Screening and Targeted Resources for Older Adults

Sarah E. Nelson, PhD | Division on Addiction, Cambridge Health Alliance; Debi A. LaPlante, PhD | Division on Addiction, Cambridge Health Alliance
Competition Sponsor: US National Academy of Medicine
Awardee Year: 2022


Mental health consists of the absence of mental disorder and the presence of emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It is associated with healthy longevity. Further, whereas mental disorder (e.g., depression and anxiety) is associated with increased risk for mortality, characteristics of well-being (e.g., happiness and life satisfaction) are associated with reduced mortality. These relationships highlight the importance of enabling older adults’ understanding of their mental health risks and strengths. One means of providing such insight and helping to extend healthy longevity is mental health screening and referral to treatment and wellness resources. The purpose of this proposal is to adapt and expand a free, validated mental health screening and referral tool, the Computerized Assessment and Referral System (CARS) for use with older adults on their own or in community-based peer health educator settings. Providing a structured mental health tool with automated referrals to treatment, community resources, and activities will lead to healthy longevity by facilitating engagement with such resources. Currently, CARS provides screening and referral for mental illness. This project will add screening for well-being and a specialized module to screen for older adult concerns, such as memory loss, grief, elder abuse, and loneliness. Providing older adults targeted mental health recommendations for resources and experiences will ensure they have the knowledge and support for aging well.


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