Sent from the SAMHSA/CMHS Consumer E-news Listserv on 02/03/2016:

SAMHSA’s current Wellness Initiative raises awareness of health disparities for people with behavioral health issues. Adding to this work, SAMHSA’s Program to Achieve Wellness will:

  • Engage people with behavioral health challenges, people experiencing or at-risk for homelessness, national organizations, communities, states, and tribes to determine program priorities
  • Develop wellness products and tools, like a mobile messaging application, to support wellness practices and strategies
  • Provide expert consultation and technical assistance via email, telephone, and web-based technologies to help individuals and organizations reach their wellness goals
  • Identify new and effective practices and programs, and share these methods with the field

The Program to Achieve Wellness is largely built around the Eight Dimensions of Wellness. Supporting and promoting whole health for those with behavioral health issues is critically important.  People with serious mental illness and substance use disorders are 25 to 40 percent more likely to die from heart disease than the general population.[i]  Members of this population are also twice as likely to be overweight or obese.[ii]  This puts them at a greater risk for diabetes and high blood pressure. For those with serious mental illness, heart disease is a leading cause of death, occurring at a rate more frequent than suicide.[iii]  Physical illness is responsible for about 60% of the premature deaths in this population.[iv]

“By enhancing our existing Wellness Initiative with the Program to Achieve Wellness, we can better help people in recovery enjoy long lives of health and wellness.  We’re now not only promoting awareness and providing information, but also offering the tools and assistance needed for achieving wellness goals,” says Paolo del Vecchio, Director of SAMHSA’s Center for Mental Health Services.

Individuals or organizations can submit a request for technical assistance by emailing  For more information about the program, please contact the SAMHSA/CMHS Office of Consumer Affairs at (240) 276-1949.


[i] Kilbourne, A. M., Morden, N. E., Austin, K., Ilgen, M., McCarthy, J. F., Dalack, G., & Blow, F. C. (2009). Excess heart-disease-related mortality in a national study of patients with mental disorders: identifying modifiable risk factors. General Hospital Psychiatry, 31(6), 555–563.

[ii] Daumit, G. L., Dickerson, F. B., Wang, N.-Y., Dalcin, A., Jerome, G. J., Anderson, C. A. M., … Appel, L. J. (2013). A behavioral weight-loss intervention in persons with serious mental illness. New England Journal of Medicine, 368(17), 1594–1602.

[iii] Newcomer JW, & Hennekens CH. (2007). Severe mental illness and risk of cardiovascular disease. JAMA, 298(15), 1794–1796.

[iv] De Hert, M., Correll, C. U., Bobes, J., Cetkovich-Bakmas, M., Cohen, D., Asai, I., … Leucht, S. (2011). Physical illness in patients with severe mental disorders. I. Prevalence, impact of medications and disparities in health care. World Psychiatry, 10(1), 52–77.