A new special issue of the journal Innovation in Aging, titled “Race and Mental Health Among Older Adults: Within- and Between-Group Comparisons,” is expressly devoted to much-needed research on aging and mental health within racial and ethnic minority populations (e.g., African Americans, Latinx, and Asian Americans, as well as subgroups within these larger pan-ethnic categories).
“The lack of quality research on mental health for older members of racial and ethnic population groups has been a serious impediment to amassing a solid understanding of aging processes and contextual factors that are consequential for mental well-being in later life,” wrote Robert Joseph Taylor, PhD, MSW, who served as the guest editor for this special issue. “This gap in the literature on aging is long-standing and particularly problematic given projected increases in the numbers of older adults from racial and ethnic minority population groups.”
The articles contained within address several psychosocial issues in relation to mental health status — including loneliness and hopelessness, risk factors for poor mental health such as obesity and stress, as well as protective factors such as religion and social support.
“Knowledge of the factors associated with mental health and aging for racial and ethnic minority adults is imperative for ensuring the personal well-being of older adults, their families, and communities,” Taylor said. “Further, this information is critical for the education and training of mental health practitioners who work with older adults in various settings (e.g., outpatient clinics, hospitals, nursing homes) and the development of mental health interventions and services that are culturally informed and congruent with the life experiences of racial and ethnic older adults.”
Innovation in Aging is a peer-reviewed publication of The Gerontological Society of America (GSA), the nation’s oldest and largest interdisciplinary organization devoted to research, education, and practice in the field of aging. The principal mission of the Society — and its 5,500+ members — is to advance the study of aging and disseminate information among scientists, decision makers, and the general public. GSA’s structure also includes a policy institute, the National Academy on an Aging Society.