By Felicia K. Wong, M.D.
Thank you Dr. Blanco for your post on the beneficial aspects of support groups and sharing NAMI’s online support groups as a resource. Today, I’d like to share a fantastic new health education program recently launched by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) to promote sound “mind and body” health practices among individuals who live with mental illness.
Wellness is an ongoing process of learning how to make choices and changes in your life that can enhance your physical and emotional well-being. “Wellness is everyone’s concern,” said NAMI Executive Director Mike Fitzpatrick. “But it is especially urgent for people living with serious mental illness.” People living with serious mental illness such as major depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia live on average 25 years less than other Americans.
“Many kinds of risk factors contribute to health challenges for people with mental illnesses,” said NAMI Medical Director Ken Duckworth, M.D. “Many are preventable or reversible.” The “Hearts and Minds” initiative focuses on risk factors including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking and obesity for major illnesses such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes. The program provides useful information and resources to help those with mental illness improve their diet, exercise more, and stop smoking.
“Persons with mental illnesses deserve to live a full and healthy life,” said Steven A. Schroeder, M.D., director of the Smoking Cessation Leadership Center. “At present, far too many compromise that opportunity because they smoke cigarettes, are overweight and don’t get sufficient exercise.”
Here is a video introducing “Hearts and Minds” that provides helpful suggestions for how to attain wellness.