ICL, Inc.’s OARS (Older Adult Recovery Supports) provides home-based mental health treatment and recovery services for 300 low-income older adults age 55+ with mental illness, with an emphasis on Latinx residents of Brooklyn, NY neighborhoods most impacted by COVID-19. Via a multi-disciplinary team approach, telehealth and evidence-based practices, seniors will be (re-)connected with mental health services and improve their wellbeing.
Most residents in the target areas of East New York, Brownsville, and Bedford Stuyvesant are from communities of color: 61% are Black and 27% are Latinx. Approximately 25% of residents are age 55+, and 14% are age 65+, with almost 3 out of 10 seniors experiencing poverty (29%). Detrimental social determinants of health led to case and death rates significantly above the NYC averages; East New York, in particular, saw the highest rate of COVID-19 deaths in NYC, with 945/100,000 fatalities.
The CDC reports that 20% of people age 55+ experience some type of mental health concern. The COVID-19 pandemic has worsened mental health and reduced treatment access for older adults, despite an increase in telehealth offerings. Latinx, in particular, are less likely to receive treatment for mental health issues than Whites, including during the pandemic, while suffering from elevated rates of infection and death rates as well as depression and anxiety.
Project OARS is designed to identify, reengage, and bring ICL Community Mental Health Clinic services to older adults with significant mental health and/or substance use disorders. ICL will use grant funding to deliver flexible, in-home, and trauma-informed outreach, treatment, and peer support services to seniors who deteriorated and/or have not consistently been engaged in mental health clinic services during the pandemic. The OARS team, consisting of a Registered Nurse, Mental Health Clinicians, and Peer Specialists will facilitate access to telehealth that connects clients with clinic-based psychiatrists, primary care physicians, and off-site social services; provide in-home/outpatient treatment that is evidence-based; psychosocial rehabilitation and intensive case management via Critical Time Intervention; and peer supports. Services are aimed at both directly improving clients’ mental health and helping them transition to clinic- and community-based mental health services. OARS first goal is to establish high-intensity outreach and engagement strategies that lead to the enrollment of 150 New Yorkers ages 55+ annually, and 300 clients over the course of the project. The second goal is to increase older adults’ access to and participation in mental and physical health care and recovery supports. As a result of OARS services, the third goal is to improve mental health, substance use, physical, and environmental wellbeing for at least 80% of participants. As outreach and services will be culturally and linguistically responsive and targeted to local Latins residents, the project addresses persistent racial/ethnic inequities in access to healthcare.