Department of Medicine

Geriatric Mental Health


Initiative Overview


Faculty lead: Mark Kunik, M.D.

Challenges: Depression, generalized anxiety, and increased rates of pain leading to opioid use and associated complications are common in the geriatric population. There are very few geriatric psychiatry practitioners in the United States resulting in high levels of unmet needs in primary care, particularly in medically underserved areas.

Unmet health needs: Less than 50% of mental health issues in older adults, including depression, anxiety, and opioid use disorders, are addressed. Older adults, particularly those in rural areas, often lack access to integrated care that can improved outcomes.

Unmet education and training needs: Primary care providers, who provide the majority of mental health care, and interprofessional trainees require specialized training to expand their knowledge in common geriatric mental health issues.

Initiative Vision: We will partner with The Veterans Affairs–affiliated South Central Mental Illness Research, Education, and Clinical Center (SC MIRECC) and University of Houston College of Pharmacy to improve recognition of depression, anxiety, and opioid misuse. We will utilize telehealth technology to train community primary care providers to improve their care of older adults with mental health needs and increase workforce capacity by training them as local experts in these topics.



  • Baylor College of Medicine
  • University of Houston Colleges of Pharmacy
  • Lone Star Circle of Care
  • South Central Mental Illness Research, Education, and Clinical Center
  • Texas Woman's University
  • Hope Clinic
  • Mental Illness Research, Education and Clinical Centers
  • Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center