News Harvey A. Friedman Center for Aging Behavioral/ Mental Health Health Equity

Summary: 2023 Friedman Lecture & Awards features innovations in quality mental health care for older adults

Written by Kim Furlow, communications manager for the Institute for Public Health

Students, faculty, staff and St. Louis community members recently convened for the popular Friedman Lecture and Awards presented by the Harvey A. Friedman Center for Aging at the Institute for Public Health. The 22nd annual event highlighted innovations in mental health care for older adults. Eric Lenze, MD, the Wallace & Lucille K. Renard Professor in Psychiatry, and head of the Department of Psychiatry at Washington University School of Medicine presented the lecture, Mental health and older adults: New ways to provide high-quality care.

Center co-Director, Nancy Morrow-Howell, PhD, gives an update on
current work by the Friedman Center for Aging

Harvey A. Friedman Center for Aging co-Director, Nancy Morrow-Howell, PhD, the Bettie Bofinger Brown Distinguished Professor of Social Policy at the Brown School, introduced the event with an update on the center’s work. She highlighted studies on fostering age diversity and inclusion on university campuses and, through its WashU for Life Initiative, the center’s published work and tools on anti-ageism issues. The center has also evolved its popular Your Next Move: Transitioning to the New Retirement series into an eight-week course offered through WashU’s University College. Aside from the financial aspects involved, this course provides the skills and essential ingredients necessary for making a successful transition to retirement and a fulfilling next chapter of life. When I’m 64 is an undergraduate intergenerational course offered to freshman students. Additionally, Morrow-Howell announced the appointment of Brian Carpenter, PhD, as co-Director of the Center for Aging and a multi-disciplinary executive committee to advise the center moving forward.

Also a time to recognize outstanding work in the field of aging, the event presented awards to the following 2023 awardees:   

The Alene and Meyer Kopolow Award for Geriatrics, Psychiatry and Neurology

Beth Prusaszcyk, PhD, MSW, assistant professor at the WashU School of Medicine

Beth Prusaszcyk, left, receives the Kopolow Award
The Harvey A. and Dorismae Hacker Friedman Award for Excellence in Service to Older Adults

Jamie Opsal, executive director of the St. Louis City Senior Fund

Jamie Opsal, left, is the winner of the Friedman Award
The Mark S. Wrighton Graduate Student Research Award on Aging

Winner: Jung Uk Kang, PhD candidate, School of Medicine

Runner-up: Hannah Wilks, graduate student, Arts & Sciences

Wrighton Graduate Student Research Award winners, Jung Uk Kang, left, and Hannah Wilks, right, pose for a photo with Nancy Morrow-Howell, center co-director

In addition to his other duties, the event’s keynote speaker, Eric Lenze, MD, is also an Institute for Public Health Faculty Scholar, and director of both the ICTS Mobile Health Research Core and the university’s Healthy Mind Lab. He said that the needs of older adults with mental health issues are great and diverse and added, “With all the time primary care doctors spend on mental health care in general, where do the older adults with complex issues come in?” Lenze pointed out that our nation continues to have a low supply of psychiatrists and therapists, especially those who serve older adults with complex needs.

Above, Eric Lenze’s keynote included a look at today’s complexities of geriatric mental health care and the core of the problems, as shown below

Lenze offered a few innovations suggested by WashU Psychiatry, that promote an “integrated mental health care” model that includes collaborative care (still in the primary care setting) and made up of a case manager and a psychiatrist (for complex cases) and which enables the patient to access “good, evidence-based mental health care.”

Following Lenze’s presentation, he moderated a panel of mental health experts, who discussed other innovations in mental health care for older adults. Panelists included Katie Holzer, PhD, LCSW; Monique Williams, MD, MSCI; and Jameca Woody-Cooper, PhD.  

Read speaker biographies in the event program.

Panelists discuss innovations in mental health care for older adults that they find most effective

Panelists discussed barriers in accessing care such as the lack of mental health practitioners in the St. Louis region and general access to care for older adults. For example, during the pandemic, more adults accessed care through telehealth mechanisms, however, there are those who cannot afford the technology tools or transportation necessary or don’t have family support to access care.

One innovation includes a model of proactive communication between care providers (primary care, hospital staff, psychiatrists, etc.) in partnership with one another, especially after a patient’s hospital stay. Care partners discuss treatment plans and transitions on behalf of the patient. Communication is crucial to meet the short- and long-term goals of older adults.

As for the future of mental health care of older adults, the panel reiterated the importance of multi-disciplinary teams to coordinate older adult care and complex needs. In Missouri, the state is moving toward value-based care, which assesses quality outcomes instead of volume and enables longer appointment times so that the whole person can be addressed, including their mental health. This multi-pronged model is proving to be successful for individuals and older adult populations.

The lecture concluded with audience questions to Lenze and the panel, which provided further insight into what is needed to provide high-quality mental health care for older adults.

Watch the full 2023 Friedman Lecture and Awards presentation.       

The 22nd Annual Friedman Lecture and Awards is made possible by the support of Harvey A. and Dorismae Hacker Friedman Endowment for Aging at The Foundation for Barnes-Jewish Hospital. This annual event celebrates the latest in ideas and research in aging as well as provides an opportunity to recognize professionals providing outstanding service in the field. Lectures have covered a wide range of topics that represent the diversity of experiences and needs of aging adults and communities.

The Harvey A. and Dorismae Hacker Friedman Award is supported by The Foundation for Barnes-Jewish Hospital from the Harvey A. and Dorismae Hacker Friedman Fund.

The Alene and Meyer Kopolow Award for Geriatrics, Psychiatry and Neurology is supported by the Foundation for Barnes-Jewish Hospital from the Alene and Meyer Kopolow Fund for Geriatrics, Psychiatry and Neurology.

The Mark S. Wrighton Award and 3MT competition is supported by The Foundation for Barnes-Jewish Hospital from the Harvey A. and Dorismae Hacker Friedman Fund.