National Council for Mental Wellbeing

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Contact: Heather Cobb at HeatherC@thenationalcouncil.org or 703-599-1375

Washington, D.C. (December 5, 2013) — The National Council for Mental Wellbeing recently led a Whole Health Action Management (WHAM) training for 30 Veterans and staff at Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial Veterans Hospital (Bedford VAMC) in Bedford, Massachusetts. The WHAM training — created by the National Council’s SAMHSA-HRSA Center for Integrated Health Solutions (CIHS) — taught Veterans in recovery from mental illnesses and addictions how to lead peer support groups that promote mind-body whole health and resiliency to better self-manage physical and behavioral health issues.

“We were delighted when the Veterans Administration asked us to provide training to Veterans with mental illnesses and addictions,” said Jeannie Campbell, Executive Vice President at the National Council. “Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial Veterans Hospital’s Peer Support program is visionary — they fully support their peer workforce and they know how vital mind-body health is. WHAM is the next evolution of this vision.”

“I am honored to represent Bedford VAMC as part of the state-wide team developed by SAMSHA to strengthen behavioral health care systems and services for our Veterans in Massachusetts”, offered Christine Croteau, Acting Director at the Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial Veterans Hospital.   “A vital part of offering Veterans the full spectrum of care requires strong partners in the community.”

“Veterans know that mind and body resiliency is the pinnacle to their whole health. WHAM, with its focus on identifying personal strengths and fostering resilience, is an ideal support group model for Veterans,” said Kevin Henze, PhD, CPRP, Director of the Empowerment & Peer Services Center at the hospital. “Members of the military and veterans have a tight bond, making the peer-to-peer component paramount.”

WHAM teaches 10 health and resiliency factors developed in partnership with the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital. They are:

1.    Stress management
2.    Healthy eating
3.    Physical activity
4.    Restful sleep
5.    Service to others
6.    Support network
7.    Optimism based on positive expectations
8.    Cognitive skills to avoid negative thinking
9.    Spiritual beliefs and practices
10.    A sense of meaning and purpose

When proper attention is paid to these factors, Veterans can become more resilient, which helps prepare them for traumas associated with the theater of war.

“The military recognizes that mind-body resiliency will ensure healthier veterans,” said Larry Fricks, WHAM creator and Deputy Director of CIHS at the National Council for Mental Wellbeing. “We look forward to working with additional VA programs to teach peer specialists how to implement the WHAM process at their local sites.”

WHAM trainings are available for a variety of audiences. Find out how you can bring WHAM to your agency or organization by emailing Hannah M.

About the National Council for Mental Wellbeing

The Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial Veterans Hospital is honored to provide services and care to America’s Veterans by providing exceptional health care that improves their health and well-being.  Learn more at: www.Bedford.VA.gov/guide