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National Wellness
Week 2012

September 17–23

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Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Department of Health and Human Services

Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration Center for Mental Health Services

Last Updated: 9/15/2011

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About SAMHSA’s Wellness Efforts

Why Wellness Matters

People with mental health and substance use disorders die decades earlier than the general population, mostly due to preventable medical conditions such as diabetes or cardiovascular, respiratory, or infectious diseases (including HIV).

Risk factors for people with mental health and substance use disorders


Poverty, Social Isolation, and Trauma

People with behavioral health problems often live in poverty and experience social isolation and trauma, which can lead to higher levels of stress and/or reduce access to quality primary care services that can help prevent and manage these deadly conditions.



75% percent of individuals with behavioral health problems smoke cigarettes as compared to 23%of the general population.1 Half of all deaths from smoking occur among patients with mental or substance use disorders. Every year, smoking kills about 200,000 people who live with mental illnesses.2



Obesity is frequently accompanied by depression and the two can trigger and influence each other.3 In fact, a study of obese people with binge eating problems found that 51% also had a history of major depression.


Medication Side Effects

The high prevalence of CVD risk factors can be explained in part by unfavorable psychiatric medication side effects—particularly on increased metabolic risk factors for CVD.4,5,6 Weight gain from medication treatment of schizophrenia and affective disorders is a well established side effect of antipsychotics affecting between 15 to 72% of people taking the medicines.


Other Substance Use—Alcohol and Drugs

Heavy and binge drinking is associated with numerous health problems, including: damage to liver cells, inflammation of the pancreas, various cancers, high blood pressure, and psychological disorders.7


Lack of Access to Quality Healthcare

People with behavioral health problems lack health insurance coverage at far higher rates than the general population. Due in part to the lack of provider knowledge in working with these populations, people with behavioral health problems often receive a poorer quality of healthcare.

SAMHSA’s Wellness Initiative

SAMHSA’s Vision

We envision a future in which people with mental health and substance use disorders pursue optimal health, happiness, recovery, and a full and satisfying life in the community via access to a range of effective services, supports, and resources.

Take the Pledge for Wellness!

Sign the Pledge for Wellness to stay informed about SAMHSA's Wellness Initiative, National Wellness Week 2013, year-round wellness, and our work with Million Hearts™

Since 2007, SAMHSA has promoted the improved wellness of people with behavioral health problems by engaging, educating, and training providers, consumers, and policy makers. SAMHSA partnered with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Women’s Health (FDA/OWH) to disseminate wellness messages and motivate individuals and community organizations to take action through a Pledge for Wellness. Already, more than 3,000 national and community organizations are taking action for wellness.

SAMHSA’s Wellness efforts are guided by its partners and a multidisciplinary Steering Committee representing people with mental health and substance use disorders, people in recovery from mental health and substance use disorders, families, peer-run and community-based organizations, behavioral health care providers, primary care providers, and researchers.

National Wellness Week and Year-Round Wellness


In 2011, SAMHSA and FDA/OWH launched the first National Wellness Week as part of SAMHSA’s National Recovery Month. National Wellness Week takes place during the third week of September. During National Wellness Week, we aim to inspire individuals, families, behavioral health and primary care providers, and peer-run, faith-based, and other community organizations to improve their health behaviors, while also exploring their talents, skills, interests, social connections, and environment to incorporate the Eight Dimensions of Wellness into their lives as part of a holistic lifestyle. National Wellness Week’s overarching theme every year is Living Wellness, to emphasize that no matter which dimension of wellness we focus on, our ultimate goal is to live well—within our bodies, minds, and communities. The theme also shows that Wellness is not static or finite; rather, it’s a continuous journey.

In our inaugural year, we mobilized more than 100 peer-run, faith-based, and other community organizations—including schools, clinics, and employers, as well as behavioral health and primary care providers—to organize activities during National Wellness Week, to host events, or promote messages encouraging the Eight Dimensions of Wellness.

Year-Round Wellness in 2013!

In addition to demonstrating the activities of the upcoming National Wellness Week 2013, we will update the Wellness interactive map to include monthly events year-round! We encourage you to submit your events to wellness@samhsa.hhs.gov so others in your State can learn about your wellness events. Also, be sure to check out the Wellness Community Activation Kit for more information on wellness and planning for your community.

We want this year to be even bigger—tell us your plans and get on the map for National Wellness Week 2012! We want to hear what events, activities, and promotions you’re planning for your communities.

  1. Parks, J. and Jewell, P. eds. (2006). Technical Report on Smoking Policy and Treatment in State Operated Psychiatric Facilities. Alexandria, VA: National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors Medical Directors Council.
  2. http://www.nami.org/Content/NavigationMenu/Hearts_and_Minds/Smoking_Cessation/Smoking_and_Mental_Illness.htm External Web Site Policy.
  3. http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/obesity.aspx External Web Site Policy.
  4. Ibid.
  5. Lieberman JA, Stroup TS, McEvoy JP, et al. Effectiveness of antipsychotic drugs in patients with chronic schizophrenia. N Engl J Med. 2005;353(12):1209-1223.
  6. American Diabetes Association. Consensus development conference on antipsychotic drugs and obesity and diabetes. Diabetes Care. 2004;27(2):596-601.
  7. http://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/faqs.htm#healthProb External Web Site Policy.
This Web site was developed under contract with the Office of Consumer Affairs in SAMHSA’s Center for Mental Health Services. The views, opinions, and content provided
on this Web site do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, or policies of SAMHSA or HHS. The resources listed in this Web site are not all-inclusive and inclusion on this Web site
does not constitute an endorsement by SAMHSA or HHS.