Grant approved for seniors with mental illness

RENO, Nev. (KOLO) -- According to Mental Health America, Nevada ranks last out of all 50 states when it comes to mental health services and availability. One portion of the population dealing with the disorder that we aren't reminded of are seniors. The Washoe County Board of Commissioners wanted to help change that.

Commissioners recently approved a $75,000 Senior Mental Health grant to help seniors suffering from mental illness. According to the Washoe County Human Services Agency (HSA), the 60 and older population is the fastest growing age group in the county. As the population grows, HSA has seen an increase in the number of seniors exhibiting suicidal thoughts, aggression, substance abuse and depression.

"The services are not available, that the funding is not here and it's heartbreaking," Noelle Gravallese, Program Coordinator of Alta Vista Mental Health, said.

"I think there's a lack of discussion or awareness there," Andrea Thoms, Case Manager at Alta Vista Mental Health, said. "We're seeing more mental health issues and not enough services, so I think it's important to be able to provide those resources."

Washoe County HSA will oversee the funds to ensure services are provided for seniors in need of mental health treatment, case management, and rehabilitation. Washoe County leaders connect with Alta Vista so the agency can provide services through the new grant.

"They come here to feel the support and the care,,especially when the family doesn't know how to support them," Gravallese said.

Alta Vista is available at the Senior Center in Reno, at 1155 E 9th St. The center provides meals, support, and daycare for seniors who can't care for themselves or don't have transportation.

"We also choose to get away from our desks and go out in the community and have home visits," Thoms said.

The grant lasts from October 1, 2018 to September 20, 2019.