International Psychogeriatrics

Guest Editorial

In our hands: responding to the IOM report on workforce needs for older adults with mental health and substance use disorders

David C. Steffens

University of Connecticut Health Center, Farmington, Connecticut, USA Email:

In the United States, there are signs that we are coming to terms with the growing healthcare needs of older Americans. Over the past decade, exploding Medicare costs and the federal budget deficit have forced medical professionals, policy-makers, and other stakeholders to consider the consequences of an aging population. The US Congress commissioned a report from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) on the physical healthcare needs of the elderly adults and the geriatric healthcare workforce required to meet them, resulting in the 2008 IOM report Retooling for an Aging America: Building the Health Care Workforce (IOM, 2008). Following this report, Congress recognized that the work was not finished and that more information was needed about mental health and substance use (MH/SU) disorders in older Americans. The IOM was commissioned by Congress to convene a committee to study and report on the workforce needed to care for this group. In 2012, the IOM released The Mental Health and Substance Use Workforce for Older Adults: In Whose Hands? (IOM, 2012).