March 18, 2010
Arlington, Va. -- The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has launched a new health education program to promote sound "mind and body" health practices among individuals who live with serious mental illness.
The "Hearts and Minds" initiative focuses on combating risk factors like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking and obesity for major illnesses such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes.
The program has significant implications for African Americans living with mental illness, who face these risk factors as well as additional disparities in access to and quality of health care.
"Wellness is everyone's concern," said NAMI Executive Director Mike Fitzpatrick. "But it is especially urgent for people living with serious mental illness, including African Americans."
The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) Office of Minority Health reports that:
One recent study has now confirmed the existence of a "reciprocal link" between depression and obesity. People living with serious mental illness such as major depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia live on average 25 years less than other Americans who die from other chronic illnesses.
The Hearts & Minds program consists of five key components:
"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."
"They include isolation, relatively low incomes, sedentary lifestyles, smoking as a form of self-medication and the side-effects of some medications for mental illness."
"There has been significant progress in treatment options for mental illness to
"Hearts and Minds will empower people to minimize and manage health risks to
"Hearts and Minds" is funded by OptumHealth and the
NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) is the nation's largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to improving the lives of individuals and families affected by mental illness. NAMI has over 1100 state and local affiliates that engage in research, education,