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:
- 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.
- 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).
- 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 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 depends on the integration of wellness and health knowledge. SAMHSA tools that support general health include the following:
- The Million Hearts Initiative is a national, joint SAMHSA and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) initiative working to prevent heart disease and stroke, especially among people with severe mental and/or substance use disorders who are much more likely to die from heart disease than the general population.
- The SAMHSA-Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Center for Integrated Health Solutions (CIHS) provides a resource list for diabetes management, including toolkits, trainings, and other educational materials.
- Promoting Wellness for People in Mental Health Recovery: A Step-by-Step Guide to Planning and Conducting a Successful Health Fair – 2014 (PDF | 2 MB) helps integrated care sites reach people with screening, education, and support.
- Supervisor Guide: Peer Support Whole Health and Wellness – 2013 (PDF | 303 KB) contains wellness information, resources, and strategies.
- SAMHSA’s Wellness Initiative promotes wellness for people with mental and/or substance use disorders.
- A Guide to Substance Abuse Services for Primary Care Clinicians – 2009 provides concise guidelines to primary care clinicians for substance abuse screening, brief assessment, brief intervention, in-depth assessment, referral, specialized treatment, and follow-up care. This resource includes alcohol abuse and drug abuse assessment tools.
- National Recovery Month is a national observance that educates Americans on the fact that addiction treatment and mental health services can enable those with a mental and/or substance use disorder to live a healthy and rewarding life.
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.
- The Department of Agriculture’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed) aims to improve the likelihood that people eligible for SNAP-Ed will make healthy food choices within a limited budget and choose physically active lifestyles consistent with the current Dietary Guidelines for Americans and MyPlate. Visit ChooseMyPlate.gov for resources on healthy eating.
- Healthy People 2020 is a national agenda to improve the health of all Americans over a 10-year span, up to the year 2020. It features new learning opportunities and events to improve health within communities.
- Food Education for People with Serious Psychiatric Disabilities – 2009 (PDF | 3 MB) is an evidence-based recovery curriculum designed to guide rehabilitation practitioners in helping people with serious psychiatric disabilities achieve nutritional health as a resource for recovery.
- Weight Management Strategies for Adults and Youth with Behavioral Health Conditions – 2012 (PDF | 216 KB) is a report from the Behavioral Health and Wellness Program at the University of Colorado that focuses on the weight control issues seen in both adults and youth with behavioral health conditions.
- Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, issued by HHS, describe the types and amounts of physical activity that offer substantial health benefits.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides physical activity guidelines across all age groups.
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.
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.