Stigma-Buster Sara Qualls to be named 2012 ‘Hero of Mental Health’
“Aging has a bad ‘rap’ for being a downhill slide filled with uphill battles, ignoring the gifts and benefits of the later phases of life,” says Dr. Sara Qualls, the Kraemer Family Professor of Aging at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs.
Qualls will be named the 2012 Hero of Mental Health during AspenPointe’s fifth annual luncheon on Tuesday, October 2 at the Broadmoor Hotel. The award recognizes those in Colorado Springs who champion whole-person wellness and spearhead efforts to curb stigma while advancing treatment for mental illness, substance abuse, homelessness and joblessness
“About half of my work is to help older adults and those who serve them learn about the opportunities for growth and development in later life. The other half of my work is to address the very real health and social challenges that accompany aging. The latter often involves coaching older adults and their families, service providers, and communities in how to maximize primary control over their bodies and worlds and use secondary control strategies to accept circumstances they might not prefer.”
AspenPointe president and CEO Morris L. Roth lauded Qualls, saying, “The growth of our older adult population provides many opportunities for our community as well as challenges that will require the types of collaborations and innovation that Dr. Qualls is spearheading. Her concern, passion and dedication to the physical and mental well-being of our seniors is unsurpassed and we are excited to be able to recognize the great things she has done and continues to do.”
Qualls, a member of the UCCS faculty since 1984, is the first UCCS faculty member to hold the Kraemer Family Professor of Aging Studies Professorship.. She led efforts to establish a doctoral program in geropsychology at UCCS, one of only four such programs in the nation. “I am personally gratified to mentor graduate students in both clinical training and research training. In particular, I enjoy teaching them about the Settings and Contexts of clinical geropsychology practice that extend far beyond the one-to-one consultation, for example, how to use the knowledge and skills of our discipline to partner with transportation and social service providers, housing and health care providers, the legal system and policy makers.” She directs the CU Aging Center, which is the community-based training clinic for program.
Qualls also leads a cooperative effort with UCCS and Palisades at Broadmoor Park to explore innovations in senior housing and the care of those with cognitive disabilities.