Mass General Brigham and Greater Boston Chinese Golden Age Center (GBCGAC) today announced a partnership to enhance mental health services, and reduce health disparities, for Asian adults and seniors. Through the partnership, GBCGAC will expand both the number of community health workers delivering linguistically appropriate mental health services, and participants in the Strong Minds Intervention program.
The Strong Minds Intervention program improves individuals’ mental health by reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety. The program helps participants learn to activate positive behaviors to manage anxiety and depression and has proven effective at increasing access to mental health care. The GBCGAC will develop an onsite training hub to increase the number of community health workers to serve adults and seniors in more locations in participants’ native languages. The intervention is currently available in English, Mandarin, Cantonese, and Spanish, with translations in Haitian Creole, Arabic and Vietnamese forthcoming.
The partnership is part of Mass General Brigham’s $50 million dollar investment in community and mental health, providing transformative grants to community partners throughout the region that are dedicated to solving some of the crises stemming from the pandemic. The investments provide necessary funds to organizations striving to increase access to mental healthcare, ensure food and nutrition security, equity, and access. These community grants build upon Mass General Brigham’s existing $175 million annual community health investment program.
“Mass General Brigham is building a strong foundation to drive lasting change for our patients and the communities we serve to reduce racial disparities and establish a culture of health equity improvement required to meet today’s healthcare challenges,” said Elsie M. Taveras, MD, Mass General Brigham’s Chief Community Health & Health Equity Officer. “Community health workers are an important part of the health care system and we’re proud to partner with Greater Boston Chinese Golden Age Center to expand their staffing to manage anxiety and depression in seniors as well as adults in the community, which has increased throughout the pandemic.”
GBCGAC will recruit bilingual/bicultural staff and volunteers to increase service capacity and provide participants with the 10-session skills-based program. In addition to offering the mental health sessions, the community health workers provide care management, increase health literacy education, and help lower barriers to health care for underserved populations.
“We’ve been working with the Disparities Research Unit at Mass General since 2015 to test and deliver the intervention program and are grateful for the investment to expand our reach,” said Ruth C. Moy GBCGAC Executive Director. “We have had great success utilizing our community health workers, who have an in-depth understanding of our community, to help individuals navigate the healthcare system and improve their overall health.”
Roughly 70 seniors have enrolled in the Positive Minds-Strong Bodies clinical trial since 2015, a version of the current program. GBCGAC currently has two community health workers and hopes to expand that number to ten over the next few months.
“We are continuing to develop cutting edge research and programming that positively impacts clinical care, policy and practice and improves the health care and wellbeing of diverse populations,” said Margarita Alegría, PhD, Chief, Disparities Research Unit at the Mongan Institute at Mass General Hospital. “We aim to reduce health disparities through expanding the reach of the Strong Minds program and value our long-term partnership with the Greater Boston Chinese Golden Age Center.”
The Strong Minds Intervention program, developed by the Disparities Research Unit in the Mongan Institute at Massachusetts General Hospital, The mission of the Disparities Research Unit at Mass General Hospital is to generate innovative health services research that helps shape policy, practice, and service delivery to reduce disparities and improve the well-being of diverse populations. Utilizing collaborative approaches with researchers, clinicians and community agencies, the DRU supports an array of research activities as well as nurtures a core of junior researchers. The DRU has a strong focus on community- based and applied interventions to improve service delivery for diverse populations.
GBCGAC is a non-profit community-based organization established in 1972. Its mission is to promote the well-being and to safeguard the independence of Asian seniors. It seeks to enable it population to overcome linguistic and cultural barriers, to access mainstream services and age well at home and in the community. GBCGAC runs a comprehensive network of programs and services including an adult day health program at three locations; nutritional program serving over 4000 meals per weekday; health information and education; wellness and social activity programming. For more information visit gbcgac.org.
Mass General Brigham is an integrated academic health care system, uniting great minds to solve the hardest problems in medicine for our communities and the world. Mass General Brigham connects a full continuum of care across a system of academic medical centers, community and specialty hospitals, a health insurance plan, physician networks, community health centers, home care, and long-term care services. Mass General Brigham is a nonprofit organization committed to patient care, research, teaching, and service to the community. In addition, Mass General Brigham is one of the nation’s leading biomedical research organizations with several Harvard Medical School teaching hospitals. For more information, please visit massgeneralbrigham.org.