Congressman Joe Courtney today visited members of United Services Lighthouse Clubhouse as they enjoyed a healthy wellness feast, commemorating their first year as participants in the nationwide InSHAPE wellness pilot program, a research study to improve the physical health of people with serious mental illness by The National Council for Behavioral Health and Dartmouth College.
“United Services is proud of all those clubhouse members who have chosen to take charge of their health and participate in this exciting wellness initiative,” said United Services President/CEO Diane L. Manning. “We’ve long known that physical and mental wellness are closely linked, and programs such as InSHAPE are now empowering our clients to live healthier, happier lives, which is the true reward for everyone involved in United Services’ expanding wellness initiatives.”
United Services Lighthouse Clubhouse members who have been involved in the program for the full year have lost a collective 201 pounds by integrating exercise, health and wellness programs into their daily lives. In total, all participants in the initiative have lost a collective total of 247 pounds, with the program having now been expanded to include members of United Services Welcome Arms Clubhouse in Putnam.
Wellness initiatives such as InSHAPE are part of United Services’ continued commitment to state and federal calls to integrate wellness and primary care services to assist behavioral health clients. According to the National Council, people with Serious Mental Illness (SMI) in publicly-funded mental health organizations have a reduced life-expectancy of 25-30 years compared to the general population. Obesity rates are twice as prevalent among persons with SMI compared to those without SMI.
Health and wellness pilot programs such as InSHAPE and other long-overdue primary health care programs for individuals with mental illness are now helping United Services clients reverse that trend and live the healthy productive lives they were always meant to lead. Initiatives such as the state Behavioral Health Home program to help better manage the physical health care of clients with mental illness also have the potential to help save lives and taxpayer dollars. However state and federal funding for enhanced and expanded behavioral health access have yet to match the growing needs of the community.
United Services has seen its outpatient mental health program volume increase by nearly 250 percent since 2007, and has been seeking state assistance for an expanded and consolidated Windham Regional Clinical Center since 2012. United Services has applied for federal and private financing to allow it to move forward with the project, but remains hopeful that the State of Connecticut will contribute towards improved mental and integrated primary health services in a region of the state where Mental Health has been deemed the #1 health concern by a recent Community Needs Assessment.