According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in five older adults over the ages of 55 experience mental health concerns. Thanks to a partnership with the TRIO program, RiseBoro is making it easier for older adults to access mental health counseling and educational services in their communities.
Funded by the New York City Department of the Aging, TRIO places licensed mental health clinicians in senior centers across the city, providing free individual and group counseling sessions to older adults and educating them about the important role mental health plays in successful aging. Five RiseBoro senior centers currently have a TRIO clinician on site for two days each week, including the Borinquen Plaza Senior Center, Diana H. Jones Innovative Senior Center, Hope Gardens Senior Center, Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Center, and the Roundtable Senior Center.
Jean Wynne is a licensed clinical social worker who joined the TRIO program shortly after it launched in 2016. Now she supervises RiseBoro’s TRIO clinicians and provides mental health counseling to older adults in Brooklyn.
“Our goal is to normalize the whole concept of receiving care,” Wynne said. “Some members are more receptive to counseling than others, so part of our job is to organize engagement activities related to mental wellness so that members can get to know us, and we can build trust.”
In her own weekly engagement activities, called Talks with Jean, she has covered topics like mindfulness, self-care, and the importance of staying connected to others. She says loneliness and anxiety are top concerns among the older adults she treats.
“There’s been a lot of loss during the pandemic,” Wynne said. “And a lot of older adults are just plain lonely. When the senior centers closed, other loneliness factors took hold. And now people who never perceived themselves as anxious have anxiety because of COVID-19.”
Rena Harrison, a longtime member of the Diana H. Jones Innovative Senior Center, began attending individual counseling sessions with her center’s TRIO clinician after meeting him at a group activity in 2019. When the pandemic forced her center to close, she continued attending weekly sessions over the phone.
“I thought it would be good for me to have someone to talk to,” Harrison said. “It helped me a lot. For seniors, it can be nerve-wracking to deal with problems you’ve never had before, especially if you’re disconnected from your friends you have at the center.”
Now back in the center, she continues to see her TRIO clinician and recommends the service to other seniors, saying “this is a good program that gives you someone to talk to about the problems you’re having.”
To learn more about the TRIO program or make an appointment with the TRIO clinician near you, click here.