Older Adults & Mental Health Fact Sheet


  Older Adults & Mental Health Fact Sheet

Coast to Forest Resources

Thank you for exploring our fact sheet series. To learn more about substance use and mental health, check out our other fact sheets. To find local resources, check out the Coast to Forest County-Specific Resource Guides. For a variety of national and state-focused resources, please visit our Helplines & Practical Tools page.

What is Mental Health?

  • Mental health is the combination of emotional, psychological, and social well-being1 

  • Life changes such as the death of a loved one, retirement, or isolation can impact mental health2 

  • Mental health challenges can occur at any age, and it is important to be aware of how these challenges may present differently for older adults. Additionally, older adults are at a higher risk for some mental health conditions like depression1  

Facts & Statistics

  • One in five Americans over the age of 65 are living with one or more mental health or substance use conditions

  • Adults 65 and older account for 13% of the U.S. population, but 20% of all suicide deaths4 

  • Out of all 50 states, Oregon has the highest rate of hospitalizations for opioid-related conditions for adults over the age of 653 

Warning Signs

  • A sudden change in behavior6 

  • Changes in mood or energy1 

  • Changes in sleeping or eating habits2 

  • Social withdrawal or isolation1 

  • Feeling apathetic or having difficulty feeling positive emotions1 

  • Feeling worried or stressed1 

  • Feeling confused, angry, irritable, or upset2 

  • Increased use of substances1 

  • Thoughts of self-harm or harming others1 

  • Difficulty concentrating1 

  • Persistent headaches, digestive issues, or pain1 


Prevention is possible. There are many ways to promote mental health for older adults. Below is a list of different ways to help promote mental health. 

  • Educate the public, older adults, healthcare providers, and those that work with older adults about the mental health for older adults5 

  • Combat stigma surrounding mental health for older adults5 

  • Implement evidence-based programs that promote mental health5 

  • Reach out. If you see warning signs reach out early and often5 


  • Treatment works and can include psychotherapy (e.g., cognitive behavioral therapy), medication, or a combination2,5 


National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 988 or 1-800-273-8255 or 1-888-628-9454 (Español)  

      For teletypewriter (TTY) services: dial 711 then 1-800-273-8255  

  • 24/7 confidential support for people in crisis as well as their families and friends. 

NAMI – Tips for Talking with your Doctor: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/tips-for-talking-with-your-health-care-provider  

  • A guide for how to talk with your doctor about mental health concerns 

Oregon Older Adult Behavioral Health Initiative: https://oregonbhi.org/ 

  • Provides information, resources, reports, and events focused on mental health for older adults 

SAMSHA Toolkits & Programming: https://store.samhsa.gov/?f%5b0%5d=population_group:5319  

  • A variety of toolkits, interventions, and resources that focus on mental health for older adults 

Coast to Forest Resource List: https://extension.oregonstate.edu/coast-forest-mental-health-promotion-rural-oregon  

  • A comprehensive list of resources in Oregon, organized by county 


  1. Older Adults and Mental Health  

  2. Older Adult Mental Health  

  3. Behavioral Health Challenges for Older Adults and People with Disabilities in Oregon and the United States  

  4. Depression In Older Adults: More Facts  

  5. Get Connected: Linking Older Adults with Resources on Medication, Alcohol, and Mental Health  

  6. Risk and Protective Factors  


This fact sheet was developed by the Oregon State University Coast to Forest team, a collaboration of the College of Health, OSU Center for Health Innovation and OSU Extension Service Family & Community Health program. We would like to thank the H 310 Health Field Experience students for their contributions.

For more information and to explore local resources, check out the Coast to Forest County-Specific Resource Guides.