- The Department of Psychiatry in the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS) had envisioned the need for specialized mental health care of older adults two decades back. This was the time when even the general geriatric care was not well recognized in India. Prof. Mathew Varghese and Prof. Srikala Bharath initiated the speciality clinic for older adults in the year 1999 as “Geriatric Clinic and Services”.
- Under their able leadership, the geriatric clinic at NIMHANS has grown over the past two decades achieving excellence in clinical care, training and research in the field of geriatric mental health
- The active contributions of the professionals from many departments spanning across the divisions of Behavioral sciences, Neurosciences and Basic sciences have been strengthening all these activities.
- The geriatric clinic that began as a once-weekly outpatient clinic on every Saturday afternoon has grown into a full-fledged multi-disciplinary unit, “Geriatric Psychiatry Unit” with thrice-weekly outpatient services since July 2017.
Formal Training Courses:
- Postdoctoral Fellowship (PDF) Course in ‘Geriatric Psychiatry’ in July 2014
- DM Course in ‘Geriatric Psychiatry’
- Postdoctoral Fellowship (PDF) Course in ‘Geriatric Mental Health Care’ in July 2017
- Fellowship course in ’Psychosocial Care for Elderly’ in July 2018
- Fellowship course in ‘Geriatric Mental Health Nursing’ in July 2018.
Other Training Initiatives:
- Training of community health workers on geriatric mental health literacy.
- Training of old age home staff on psychosocial care.
- Online certificate course for promoting the health and wellness of senior citizens.
- ‘Dementia Echo’ program for the online certificate training of the primary care physicians on the management of Dementia.
- Training workshops for field-level workers engaging in psychosocial interventions.
- Recognizing the need for public health approach, the Geriatric clinic and services team has been actively involved in several outreach activities to promote the mental health and well-being of older adults.
- Several public awareness programs like awareness talks, walkathon, marathon, walking plus program in public parks, training of caregivers, health workers, mental health camps in old age homes and community have been conducted over these years.
- During the COVID-19 pandemic, our team has expanded the telepsychiatry services and offered helpline services for older adults with mental health issues. We have supported the caregivers of persons with dementia through online support group activities, training of old age home staff in geriatric mental health care.
- The ‘Vayomanasa Sanjeevani’ initiative is launched to promote the mental health and well-being of older adults through a systematic and sustained outreach program. This initiative has several components such as Webinar series to promote awareness on ageing and mental health, training of lay counsellors and caregivers, providing tele-counselling through lay counsellors, psychosocial intervention in old age homes and geriatric telepsychiatry services.
- We are also planning to launch “Home-based geriatric mental health services” in Bengaluru for those having difficulty in accessing hospital-based services. This service is essential for those with significant frailty and many of those older adults with above 80 years of age. We are in the process of seeking additional resources to facilitate the implementation of this initiative.
The Geriatric Clinic and Services team is actively involved in various research projects that ranges from basic sciences to translational clinical research in the area of geriatric mental health. Genetic and multi-modal neuroimaging studies on dementia, mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and late-onset depression, studies on caregiver support, community-based epidemiological studies and brain stimulation are some of the important areas of research from our team.
This has contributed to the many publications in peer-reviewed research papers by our team.