An innovative model of depression care delivery: Peer mentors in collaboration with a mental health professional to relieve depression in older adults

Jin Hui Joo, Seungyoung Hwang, Hawa Abu, Joseph J. Gallo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objectives Traditional mental health services are not used by a majority of older adults with depression, suggesting a need for new methods of health service delivery. We conducted a pilot study using peer mentors to deliver depression care to older adults in collaboration with a mental health professional. We evaluated the acceptability of peer mentors to older adults and examined patient experiences of the intervention. Methods Six peer mentors met 30 patients for 1 hour weekly for 8 weeks. A mental health professional provided an initial clinical evaluation as well as supervision and guidance to peer mentors concurrent with patient meetings. We measured depressive symptoms at baseline and after study completion, and depressive symptoms and working alliance at weekly peer-patient meetings. We also interviewed participants and peer mentors to assess their experiences of the intervention. Results Ninety-six percent of patients attended all eight meetings with the peer mentor and PHQ-9 scores decreased for 85% of patients. Patients formed strong, trusting relationships with peer mentors. Patients emphasized the importance of trust, of developing a strong relationship, and of the credibility and communication skills of the peer mentor. Participants described benefits such as feeling hopeful, and reported changes in attitude, behavior, and insight. Conclusions Use of peer mentors working in collaboration with a mental health professional is promising as a model of depression care delivery for older adults. Testing of effectiveness is needed and processes of recruitment, role definition, and supervision should be further developed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)407-416
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry
Volume24
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2016

Keywords

  • aging
  • counseling
  • health services
  • minority elderly
  • peer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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