It’s the first ever National Older Adult Mental Health Awareness Day! According to the National Institute of Mental Health, more than two million Americans age 65 and older suffer from some form of depression. The Healthy IDEAS Program at Ethos helps over 300 older adults, every year, in alleviating depressive symptoms and connecting with ongoing mental health care.

Healthy IDEAS (Identifying Depression, Empowering Ideas for Seniors) is a free evidence-based program for seniors in  Boston who feel down, sad, or hopeless. Through this program, a graduate-level student intern visits with an elder over a 3 to 6 month period to set meaningful goals to improve their mood and raise their quality of life through behavioral activation. All goals and activities are tailored to the elder’s interests!

Evelyn referred herself to Healthy IDEAS when she was feeling lonely and experiencing periods of “ups” and “downs”. Evelyn was matched with Jill, a Healthy IDEAS Program intern studying Mental Health Counseling at UMass Boston. Jill met with Evelyn in her home on a weekly basis to discuss these symptoms and address her concerns.

Over time, Evelyn and Jill developed a strong bond. Jill found that Evelyn is intelligent, educated, insightful, and curious about her mental well-being. This was evident by her career as a professor of sociology and published articles in the field. Evelyn kept anything that reminded her of “who she was”, and had accumulated many boxes of personal cards, paper records, newsletters, pamphlets, and photographs related to herself, family, and communities, because “they are pieces of who [I] am.” The process of decluttering her home came with challenges. It was an emotional process of holding on and letting go. Anytime Evelyn made progress, she would devalue her accomplishment, but overtime was able to “give [herself] more credit” and “do more on [her] own.”

By the time Evelyn’s work with Jill in Healthy IDEAS came to a close, she was feeling hopeful, confident in her ability to self-advocate and socialize with others on a regular basis. Evelyn continues her progress with a long-term counselor and an Ethos Friendly Visiting Volunteer for continued assistance and companionship.

For more information on the Healthy IDEAS Program, or to make a referral, please contact Claribette Del Rosario, Mental Health Services Program Manager, at or 617-522-6700 ext. 344.