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“Hearts and Minds” Education Program Launched: On Average, People with Mental illness Live 25 Years Less than Other Americans,

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.

Arlington, VA (PRWEB) February 17, 2010 -- 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 takes aim at risk factors like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking and obesity for major illnesses such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes.

“Hearts and Minds” is funded by OptumHealth and the Smoking Cessation Leadership Center at the University of California-San Francisco.

The self-help program’s focus on wellness will inspire health and fitness practices familiar to many Americans—such as diet, exercise and smoking cessation. The main difference is the size of the challenge.

“Wellness is everyone’s concern,” said NAMI Executive Director Mike Fitzpatrick. “But it is especially urgent for people living with serious mental illness.”

People living with serious mental illness such as major depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia live on average 25 years less than other Americans.

  • One in four Americans experiences mental health problems in any given year.
  • One in 17 lives with the most serious mental illnesses, such as such as major depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.
  • One in ten children and adolescents struggles with serious, disabling conditions, including depression.

The program consists of five key components:

  • A special interactive “Hearts & Minds” Web site including discussion groups
  • A facilitator’s guide and tool kit for local community discussions
  • A DVD that can be downloaded or purchased through NAMI’s online store
  • A booklet on health strategies and risks that also can be downloaded or purchased
  • Printed fact sheets on a broad range of topics

“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 support recovery, but for every individual, each option requires careful assessment of benefits and risks.”

“Hearts and Minds will empower people to minimize and manage health risks to support wellness and recovery,” Duckworth said.

“Strong partnerships can create new resources and opportunities to help people with mental illness live full and productive lives,” said Andy Sekel, executive vice president, OptumHealth. “We are proud to sponsor NAMI’s ‘Hearts and Minds’ education program because it bridges mental and physical health to address the needs of the whole person.”

“Persons with mental illnesses deserve to live a full and healthy life,” said Steven A. Schroeder, M.D., director of the Smoking Cessation Leadership Center. “At present, far too many compromise that opportunity because they smoke cigarettes, are overweight and don’t get sufficient exercise.”

“‘Hearts and Minds’ includes a timely video that provides helpful suggestions for how to attain wellness. It should be watched by all persons affected by mental illness, including family members and other loved ones.”

About NAMI

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, support and advocacy. For more information see:

About OptumHealth

OptumHealth Inc. helps individuals navigate the health care system, finance their health care needs and achieve their health and well-being goals. The company’s personalized health advocacy and engagement programs tap a unique combination of capabilities that encompass public sector solutions, care solutions, behavioral solutions, specialty benefits and financial services. Serving nearly 60 million people, OptumHealth is one of the nation’s largest health and wellness businesses, and is a UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH) company. More information about OptumHealth can be found at

About the Smoking Cessation Leadership Center

The Smoking Cessation Leadership Center of the University of California-San Francisco is a national program office of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation that aims to increase smoking cessation rates and increase the number of health professionals who help smokers quit. The Center creates partnerships for results with a variety of groups and institutions to develop and implement action plans around smoking cessation. For more information see


Christine Armstrong

Optum Health
Brad Lotterman

Catherine Saucedo


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