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HGNI: Geriatric Mental Health Training Series - "Whose Problem Is It?" Mental Health and Illness in Long-term Care

HGNI: Geriatric Mental Health Training Series - "Whose Problem Is It?" Mental Health and Illness in Long-term Care

University of Iowa College of Nursing
Hartford Geriatric Nursing Initiative (HGNI)
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Mental illness is a common problem among nursing home residents, and a primary cause of behavioral management problems for staff.  However, threats to mental health may also precipitate behavioral problems. Both types of problems are briefly reviewed in this introductory program. An emphasis is placed on accurate identification of the underlying causes of the difficult behavior, and on the staff's management of their own feelings about problem behaviors. 

This is the first module in the Geriatric Mental Health Training Series (GMHTS), a six-part training program designed to be taught as a one-hour educational program for care providers in long-term care settings. The six core topics address common problems faced in LTC settings. Each is designed to help staff be more knowledgeable about the causes of "problem behaviors" and about techniques to manage those troubling behaviors. The care providers' own feelings and behaviors in response to problem behaviors is examined, including the role of values and beliefs, personal needs, and stress in the work place.  All modules can be found at:

Educational objectives: 

Objectives for this module are to:

1.     Identify 8 main sources of behavioral and psychological symptoms in older adult who live in nursing homes and other residential care setting.

2.    Describe the advantages of understanding the "chain of events" that lead up to the difficult-to-understand behaviors.

3.    Discuss the importance of understanding and managing your own emotional response to these behaviors.

4.    List key principles of caring for older adults who have mental illness or are experiencing threats to their mental health.

Additional information/Special implementation requirements or guidelines: 

The training materials were designed to be flexible, and strongly encouraged individual trainers to adapt the modules to meet their unique needs and audiences. Throughout the training materials, trainers are urged to personalize the materials by using real-life examples from their facility, try out suggested interventions with residents prior to training staff, and use as many meaningful examples as possible to help staff apply the program concepts in their day-to-day practice.

The Geriatric Mental Health Training Series (GMHTS) was developed and evaluated between 1989 and 1994 with funds from the Division of Nursing, Bureau of Health Professions, Department of Health and Human Services, under the leadership of Kathleen C. Buckwalter, PhD, RN, FAAN, Principal Investigator and current Co-Director of the Iowa HCGNE and Marianne Smith, MS, ARNP, pre-doctoral scholar of the Iowa HCGNE. This highly acclaimed training program is provided in a revised and updated format under the leadership of the HCGNE. Training materials are adapted for broad dissemination and use, and provided at no cost to users.

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Estimated time to complete: 
1 hour 30 minutes
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Suggested Citation:
HGNI: Geriatric Mental Health Training Series - "Whose Problem Is It?" Mental Health and Illness in Long-term Care. POGOe - Portal of Geriatrics Online Education; 2011 Available from:


Submitted by Bonnie Kinkead on
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