The Mental Health and Aging Award recognizes outstanding achievements in mental health and aging by individual or organizational members of ASA's Mental Health and Aging Network (MHAN). Nominees must have made significant contributions to the behavioral health of older adults, including dementia care, through exemplary research, education, policy planning, advocacy or behavioral health services that have had demonstrable effectiveness and are inclusive of diverse and underserved populations.
The winner will be featured in the Aging in America Conference program book as well as in AgeBlog and on this page. The award is typically presented during the opening General Session at the ASA annual conference and acknowledged during the MHAN reception.
The nomination site for the 2019 Award is closed. Please bookmark this page and revisit it in June.
2018 Mental Health and Aging Award Winner
Maria Hernandez-Peck has devoted years of support and service to ASA as a Mental Health and Aging (MHAN) Council member, often advocating for underserved populations by raising awareness through MHAN publications and Aging in America Conference educational sessions. Through a grant she directed at Eastern Washington University (EWU), Hernandez-Peck has for more than a decade brought 20-plus EWU social work students to Aging in America Conferences, dispelling the notion that it is difficult to create student interest in the concentration of aging and mental health. In retirement, she continues to support MHAN and MHAN peer sessions at the conference.
Hernandez-Peck has been a career-long practitioner, educator, policy planner and advocate for mental health and aging, with an emphasis on Native Peoples in the West, the Pacific Northwest and Alaska. In her decades-long role as director of the Center on Aging at EWU, she developed and directed an interdisciplinary education program, taught classes, directed research and oversaw outreach to aging people in community. She also provided service outreach to and training on LGBT populations, Native American cultural groups and Pacific Northwest rural populations.
The author or director of numerous federal, state and foundation research and training grants primarily aimed at Native American Elders, Hernandez-Peck was an organizer for the 2005 Eastern Washington Mini-White House Conference on Aging. She has worked on the mental health and aging agenda for many White House Conferences on Aging, and continues to mentor a broad, diverse group of students and practitioners.