Prevention and Holistic Approaches to Wellness: A Fresh Perspective on Mental Health Recovery
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People diagnosed with mental health problems have shorter life spans and are more likely to have serious but preventable health conditions, including obesity, diabetes, and hypertension. Traditionally, the mental health field focused mainly on dealing with a person’s psychiatric symptoms and stabilization instead of a holistic approach that would look at the wellness of the whole person—mind, body, and spirit.
Recent preventative and holistic approaches have shown success. Several mental health providers have used complementary and alternative medicines (CAMs) to treat and improve the overall health of individuals with mental health problems.
Peer leaders and community mental health providers in Georgia, Michigan, Oregon, and New Jersey are responding to the high rate of premature death and increased health problems by including in their programs health promotion and peer-delivered alternatives such as Peer Support Whole Health (PSWH)1 and Wellness Coaching (WC).2 Through these whole-health and wellness programs, peer specialists focus on resiliency and offer support to help peers establish new healthy lifestyle behaviors.
Community mental health providers in New Hampshire have introduced a promising health promotions model through In SHAPE,3 a program that offers physical activity, nutrition education, smoking cessation counseling, routine medical care, and other supports to help people with mental health problems develop healthier lifestyle habits.
The challenge for the mental health field is to embrace this movement toward wellness to best support people with mental health problems in their pursuits of best possible health, happiness, recovery, and a full and satisfying life in their communities.
Participants on this training teleconference will hear from leaders in the field who have taken active and effective steps to adopt and promote disease prevention, health promotion, and CAMs. These supporters of whole-health approaches to wellness include a community health care provider, a peer provider, and federal leaders.
- To examine the role and value of CAMs and health promotion approaches for people with mental health problems.
- To describe whole-health approaches that are delivered by peer leaders and community mental health providers.
- To challenge participants to examine how CAMs and health promotion approaches can be incorporated into traditional mental health settings.
Sherry Jenkins Tucker
Tucker is executive director of the Georgia Mental Health Consumer Network, Inc. In addition to her extensive experience with the consumer/survivor movement, Tucker—who is a self-identified consumer of mental health services—has a strong background with WRAP facilitation, Leadership Academy training, peer workforce development, advocacy, and mind/body/spirit wellness. She is a certified peer specialist and holds the credential of “I’m the Evidence,” or ITE (I’m the evidence that recovery works).
In this teleconference, Tucker will share a model developed by the Georgia-based Peer Support Whole Health (PSWH), a program that helps people with mental health problems examine their lifestyles from a perspective of strength and supports them as they re-establish new healthy lifestyle habits and disciplines. PSWH recently received funding from the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors (NASMHPD) to transform its trained peer workforce to promote holistic recovery in an effort to offset the premature death of public sector mental health consumers. This exciting new role clarifies how peer specialists promote self-directed resiliency and whole health.
Tucker, who has both a bachelor of arts and a master of arts from West Virginia University, received the 2010 Isaiah Uliss Advocate Award from the United States Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association (USPRA) and the 2009 Clifford W. Beers Award by Mental Health America.
After attending too many funerals of clients who had died prematurely due to chronic health issues, Jue—then CEO at Monadnock Family Services (MFS)—initiated In SHAPE, a motivational health promotion and physical fitness program for adults with serious mental illnesses. In this innovative program, participants are empowered, through education and guidance, to assume responsibility for their own lifestyles.
Jue recently retired after more than 30 years in various leadership roles at MFS, a nonprofit agency that offers a vast array of mental health, substance abuse, community, and family services to people with serious mental illness in southwestern New Hampshire. He continues to serve as the organization’s senior executive to advance MFS fundraising efforts and to promote the replication and formal research of the MFS In SHAPE consumer health and wellness initiative.
Jue, who holds a bachelor’s degree from Trinity College in Hartford, Conn., and a master of science in social administration from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, has received numerous accolades throughout his career. The In SHAPE program, in particular, was recognized with the 2010 Case in Point Platinum Award for Wellness and Prevention from Dorland Health Resources and the 2008 Excellence in Innovation Award by the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare. He was also awarded an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Keene State College (NH) and Citizen of the Year 2000 from the Greater Keene Chamber of Commerce (NH).
As a public affairs specialist at the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine at the National Institutes of Health, Patel focuses on creating educational campaigns and conducting outreach?both to providers and consumers—with the ultimate goal of disseminating authoritative information to NCCAM’s audiences. In this teleconference, Patel will share her insights on NCCAM’s work, which includes conducting and supporting research, training researchers, and providing information about complementary and alternative healing practices in the context of rigorous science.
Patel is also the exhibits manager at NCCAM and, as such, facilitates the organization’s presence at as many as 20 meetings a year that are attended by providers, researchers, and consumers of conventional and complementary and alternative medicine. She is also a member of the speakers’ bureau, a position that allows NCCAM to engage various segments of the community to contribute tailored information on CAMs. Prior to joining NCCAM, Patel was a communications specialist for NIH’s Office of Extramural Research. Her interest in health care-related communications existed prior to NIH, when she was a communications associate at the American Urological Association.
Patel holds a Bachelor of Science degree in mass communications with a concentration in public relations from Boston University.