This toolkit, developed by SAMHSA’s Program to Achieve Wellness, is intended for use in peer support groups for people with mental and/or substance use disorders who may experience an elevated risk of heart disease. The free toolkit contains two support group session outlines, trainer notes for the person leading the support group, a shared story from a person with lived experience, a participant handout to help engage group members with the material, an infographic outlining key messages, and a resource list. The outlined group sessions are designed to be informative and interactive, with conversation starters, worksheets, and short presentations. Participants will leave sessions better informed on how heart disease may affect their health and what they can do to reduce their risk.

Individuals with serious mental illness are 20-40 percent more likely to die from heart disease than those without mental illness. This toolkit will assist group participants in making heart-healthy choices and developing better habits to reduce the likelihood of developing heart disease. The short presentations include statistics about cardiovascular health for people with serious mental illness, followed by questions intended to encourage conversation among group members. The format is easy to follow and offers two different versions depending on the duration of the support group meetings: one for 45-minute sessions and one for 30-minute sessions. Handouts provide participants with room to add their own goals and strategies and are designed to be taken home and referenced as needed.

This resource was first shared in 2018.

(PDF Toolkit, 1 MB)