National Council for Mental Wellbeing

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Washington DC, December 7, 2012—The National Council for Mental Wellbeing (National Council) now offers 2-day in-person trainings in WHAM — Whole Health Action Management — a new science-based program that teaches participants to set and achieve whole health goals through weekly action plans and 8-week support groups. The training prepares persons with mental illness and addiction disorders, employed in behavioral health organizations, to facilitate WHAM groups that help their peers reach whole health, wellness, and resiliency goals through effective self-management. Trainings are offered anywhere in the country for interested organizations and regions.

Given the high incidence of chronic physical health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and obesity among people with mental illnesses and addictions, WHAM was developed by peers for peers to help them improve chronic health and behavioral health conditions. The training is based on the WHAM curriculum developed by the SAMHSA-HRSA Center for Integrated Health Solutions (run by the National Council) to promote whole health self-management and strengthen the peer workforce’s role in integrated healthcare delivery.

“WHAM training encouraged me to gain faith and confidence that I can regain my health. I feel as though I have found my old self that was once lost. This training provided me with an opportunity to think about what can be done to help improve the health of peers who are in a similar situation. By working together and depending on each other, I will try my best for all of us to regain a healthy life,” said Kyung Hwa Chang, a peer leader at Asian Community Mental Health Services in Oakland, CA who was trained in WHAM in August 2012.

WHAM training supports the peer workforce to use person-centered planning and weekly action plans to create new health behavior by engaging in weekly WHAM groups. It also teaches basic health screens for prevention and encourages shared decision making with health professionals. WHAM is founded on researched chronic disease self-management programs such as HARP (Health and Recovery Peer Program) and science-based health and resiliency factors like the Relaxation Response.

“Behavioral health pioneered the concept of consumers taking charge of their own health and wellness — a trend that is now growing in other areas of healthcare,” said Linda Rosenberg, president and CEO of the National Council. “WHAM offers new tools for consumers to engage their peers and prepares the healthcare workforce for a future that demands a whole health perspective,” she added.

The 2-day WHAM training prepares participating peer leaders to:

  • Engage in person-centered planning to identify strengths and supports in 10 science-based whole health and resiliency factors.
  • Write a whole health goal based on person-centered planning.
  • Create and log a weekly action plan.
  • Participate in WHAM peer support groups to create new health behavior.
  • Elicit the Relaxation Response to manage stress.
  • Engage in cognitive skills to avoid negative thinking.

Behavioral health organizations across the country are already incorporating WHAM into core workforce trainings. In New Mexico, Presbyterian Health offers WHAM to more than 600 case managers, community health workers, and peers as part of its integrated health workforce trainings. In Georgia, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services approved for Medicaid whole health and wellness peer support delivered by WHAM-certified peer specialists.

“Research has shown that people with the strongest social ties have dramatically lower rates of disease and premature death than those who feel isolated and alone. Regular participation in organized social networks — like peer support groups — is at the core of why WHAM is so effective in whole health self-management,” said Larry Fricks, National Council Consultant and developer of the WHAM curriculum.

To learn how the National Council can bring a 2-day WHAM training Sarah at