Wellness Strategies

SAMHSA’s wellness strategies address emotional and general health, nutrition and diet, smoking and tobacco use cessation, and stress management.

SAMHSA practice has proven that integrating mental health, substance use, and primary care services produces the best outcomes and proves the most effective approach to caring for people with multiple health care needs. Wellness strategies are best achieved by a combination of the following:

  1. Follow a Healthy Lifestyle
    • Don’t smoke or use addictive substances.
    • Limit alcohol intake.
    • Eat healthy foods and exercise regularly.
    • Monitor your weight, blood pressure, sleep patterns, and other important health indicators including oral (teeth and gum) health.
  2. Work with a Primary Care Doctor
    • Communication between people with mental health problems, mental health professionals, and primary care providers is essential.
    • See a primary care physician regularly (at least twice a year).
  3. Ask Questions!
    • Know about medications or alternative treatments.
    • Review and act on results of check-ups and health screenings.
    • Monitor existing and/or new symptoms.
    • Speak up about any concerns or doubts.

Services are organized via traditional models within primary care settings, behavioral health settings, or a health home model, in which the focus is on caring for the whole person. Learn more at the Health Care and Health Systems Integration topic.

Emotional Health

Emotional health refers to a positive self-concept, which includes dealing with feelings constructively and developing positive qualities such as optimism, trust, self-confidence, and determination. Wellness Worksheets – 2012 (PDF | 2 MB) provide more than 100 self-evaluating tools for emotional and overall well-being.

General Health

General health depends on the integration of wellness and health knowledge. SAMHSA tools that support general health include the following:

Nutrition and Diet

Healthy eating and diet are part of a wellness strategy that focus on nutrition, as well as physical activity and weight management.

Smoking and Tobacco Cessation

Smoking is a major contributor to early morbidity and mortality in people with mental illnesses and substance use disorders:

  • About 75% of people with behavioral health disorders smoke, compared to 23% of the general population.
  • People with mental and/or substance use disorders smoke half of all cigarettes produced, and are only half as likely as other smokers to quit.
  • Smoking-related illnesses cause half of all deaths among people with behavioral health conditions.

As a result of elevated tobacco use and a number of other risk factors, people with serious mental illnesses—such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder—experience significant health disparities and are at increased risk for early mortality.

SAMHSA offers smoking and tobacco cessation resources. In addition, the SAMHSA Center for Substance Abuse Prevention oversees implementation of the Synar Amendment, which requires states to establish regulations prohibiting the sale and distribution of tobacco products to people under the age of 18 and to enforce those laws effectively.

SAMHSA’s National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices offers several smoking cessation interventions.

The CDC offers a fact sheet on the health benefits of quitting tobacco use.

Stress Management

Between 60% and 80% of visits to health care providers in the United States are related to stress. Stress prevention and management are vital. Learn more about SAMHSA’s stress management resources.

Last Updated: 07/02/2015