HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — The Pa. Department of Aging announced Thursday it will use a new grant from the Administration of Community Living (ACL) to expand its Healthy IDEAS Program.

The three-year, $270,295 grant will be used to better identify and address depression symptoms among older adults. The Healthy IDEAS (Identify Depression and Empowering Activities for Seniors) Program started in 2018, and has since expanded to create an anti-stigma campaign to support Pennsylvanians.

Pa. is the first state to independently train and administer the Healthy IDEAS Program in order to bring together the aging network and the mental/behavioral health community to improve benefits for older adults and their families affected by depression.

This program is conducted by trained staff either in-person, by phone or video chat over a 3 to 6 month period.

“Despite the progress being made with COVID-19 vaccine availability and restrictions being lifted, there still is ongoing concern about the need to assess and support the mental health needs of older adults. They may still have feelings of anxiety, loneliness, and social isolation due to the impact of mitigation orders over the past year,” Secretary of Aging Robert Torres said. “This ACL grant allows the department to increase the capacity of our aging network to assist more seniors and strengthen relationships with community behavioral health resources and medical providers throughout the commonwealth.”