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Improving engagement in mental health treatment for home meal recipients with depression

Authors Sirey JA, Greenfield A, DePasquale A, Weiss N, Marino P, Alexopoulos GS, Bruce ML

Received 29 May 2013

Accepted for publication 22 July 2013

Published 27 September 2013 Volume 2013:8 Pages 1305—1312


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

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Jo Anne Sirey, Alexandra Greenfield, Alyssa DePasquale, Nathalie Weiss, Patricia Marino, George S Alexopoulos, Martha L Bruce

Department of Psychiatry, Weill Cornell Medical College, White Plains, NY, USA

Background: Staff who provide support services to older adults are in a unique position to detect depression and offer a referral for mental health treatment. Yet integrating mental health screening and recommendations into aging services requires staff learn new skills to integrate mental health and overcome client barriers to accepting mental health referrals. This paper describes client rates of depression and a novel engagement intervention (Open Door) for homebound older adults who are eligible for home delivered meals and screened for depression by in-home aging service programs.
Methods: Homebound older adults receiving meal service who endorsed depressive symptoms were interviewed to assess depression severity and rates of suicidal ideation. Open Door is a brief psychosocial intervention to improve engagement in mental health treatment by collaboratively addressing the individual level barriers to care. The intervention targets stigma, misconceptions about depression, and fears about treatment, and is designed to fit within the roles and responsibilities of aging service staff.
Results: Among 137 meal recipients who had symptoms when screened for depression as part of routine home meal service assessments, half (51%) had Major Depressive Disorder and 13% met criteria for minor depression on the SCID. Suicidal ideation was reported by 29% of the sample, with the highest rates of suicidal ideation (47%) among the subgroup of individuals with Major Depressive Disorder.
Conclusion: Individuals who endorse depressive symptoms during screening are likely to have clinically significant depression and need mental health treatment. The Open Door intervention offers a strategy to overcome barriers to mental health treatment engagement and to improve the odds of quality care for depression.

Keywords: depression, access to care, mental health intervention, engagement

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