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Older adult mental health peer specialists: Providing a path to recovery

The World Health Organization reported that between 2015 and 2050 the global population of individuals over the age of 60 is expected to jump from 12% to 22%; in actual numbers that means an increase from 900 million to 2 billion people.

Aging may mean a decline in physical and/or mental health. In a 2010 article, then-U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher, M.D., Ph.D., asserted that mental and physical health in older adults is inextricably linked, but that some providers fail to recognize symptoms.

Phyllis Hanlon explores a program that trains older adults to act as behavioral health specialists and wellness coaches. These peer specialists learn to work with older adults who have physical and mental health problems that might include normal aging, cultural competence, anxiety, depression trauma, substance use and others.

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