About SAMHSA’s Wellness Efforts
Why Wellness Matters for People with Mental Health and Substance Use Conditions
People with mental health and substance use conditions die decades earlier than the general population, mostly due to preventable medical conditions such as diabetes or cardiovascular, respiratory, or infectious diseases (including HIV).
Risk factors for people with mental health and substance use disorders
Poverty, Social Isolation, and Trauma
People with behavioral health problems often live in poverty and experience social isolation and trauma, which can lead to higher levels of stress and/or reduce access to quality primary care services that can help prevent and manage these deadly conditions.
75% percent of individuals with behavioral health problems smoke cigarettes as compared to 23%of the general population.1 Half of all deaths from smoking occur among patients with mental or substance use disorders. Every year, smoking kills about 200,000 people who live with mental illnesses.2
Obesity is frequently accompanied by depression and the two can trigger and influence each other.3 In fact, a study of obese people with binge eating problems found that 51% also had a history of major depression.
Medication Side Effects
The high prevalence of CVD risk factors can be explained in part by unfavorable psychiatric medication side effects—particularly on increased metabolic risk factors for CVD.4,5,6 Weight gain from medication treatment of schizophrenia and affective disorders is a well established side effect of antipsychotics affecting between 15 to 72% of people taking the medicines.
Other Substance Use—Alcohol and Drugs
Heavy and binge drinking is associated with numerous health problems, including: damage to liver cells, inflammation of the pancreas, various cancers, high blood pressure, and psychological disorders.7
Lack of Access to Quality Healthcare
People with behavioral health problems lack health insurance coverage at far higher rates than the general population. Due in part to the lack of provider knowledge in working with these populations, people with behavioral health problems often receive a poorer quality of healthcare.
SAMHSA’s Wellness Initiative—Promoting Wellness for People With Mental Health and Substance Use Conditions
We envision a future in which people with mental health and substance use disorders pursue optimal health, happiness, recovery, and a full and satisfying life in the community via access to a range of effective services, supports, and resources.
Since 2007, SAMHSA has promoted the improved wellness of people with mental health and substance use conditions by engaging, educating, and training providers, consumers, and policy makers. SAMHSA partnered with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Women’s Health (FDA/OWH) to disseminate wellness messages and motivate individuals and community organizations to take action through a Pledge for Wellness. Already, more than 3,000 national and community organizations are taking action for wellness.
SAMHSA’s Wellness efforts are guided by its partners and a multidisciplinary Steering Committee representing people with mental health and substance use disorders, people in recovery from mental health and substance use disorders, families, peer-run and community-based organizations, behavioral health care providers, primary care providers, and researchers.
Take the Pledge for Wellness!
Sign the Pledge for Wellness to stay informed about SAMHSA's Wellness Initiative, National Wellness Week 2013, year-round wellness, and our work with Million Hearts™
What Can You Do? Promote National Wellness Week and Year-Round Wellness!
In 2011, SAMHSA and FDA/OWH launched the first National Wellness Week as part of SAMHSA’s National Recovery Month. National Wellness Week takes place during the third week of September. During National Wellness Week, we aim to inspire individuals, families, behavioral health and primary care providers, and peer-run, faith-based, and other community organizations to improve their health behaviors, while also exploring their talents, skills, interests, social connections, and environment to incorporate the Eight Dimensions of Wellness into their lives as part of a holistic lifestyle. National Wellness Week’s overarching theme every year is Living Wellness, to emphasize that no matter which dimension of wellness we focus on, our ultimate goal is to live well—within our bodies, minds, and communities. The theme also shows that wellness is not static or finite; rather, it’s a continuous journey.
In our inaugural year, we mobilized more than 100 peer-run, faith-based, and other community organizations—including schools, clinics, and employers, as well as behavioral health and primary care providers—to organize activities during National Wellness Week, to host events, or promote messages encouraging the Eight Dimensions of Wellness.
Year-Round Wellness in 2013!
In addition to demonstrating the activities of the upcoming National Wellness Week 2013, we will update the Wellness interactive map to include monthly events year-round! We encourage you to submit your events to firstname.lastname@example.org so others in your State can learn about your wellness events. Also, be sure to check out the Wellness Community Activation Kit for more information on wellness and planning for your community.
We want this year to be even bigger—tell us your plans and get on the map for National Wellness Week 2013! We want to hear what events, activities, and promotions you’re planning for your communities. You can also download the National Wellness Week 2013 graphic to put on your organization’s Web site!
What Does Wellness Mean to You?
SAMHSA would like to know what wellness means to you, particularly within families, communities, and individual lives. What would wellness encompass? How would the Eight Dimensions of Wellness be utilized? Send your thoughts to email@example.com.