Kaylyn Kendall Dines
UMDNJ Partners with Eli Lilly and Company To
Launch New Program To Help Bridge the Gap Between
Physical and Mental Health
"Pathways to Wellness" is first computer software program
of its kind nationwide to enable mental health professionals
to help clients develop healthier lifestyle habits
The University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ)
University Behavioral HealthCare's Center for Excellence in Psychiatry
today launched "Pathways to Wellness," a new program to help address
the most common and often-untreated physical health problems faced
by people with severe and persistent mental illness.
The first computer software application of its kind, Pathways
for Wellness is designed to help mental health professionals facilitate
lifestyle and behavioral changes that can improve their clients'
overall physical health and wellness. Eli Lilly and Company sponsored
the development of the Pathways for Wellness.
The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) has stated
that between five and 10 million adults in the United States have
serious disabling mental conditions. "Many individuals living
with severe mental illness also have co-occurring physical problems
that are frequently mis-diagnosed, under-diagnosed, or under-treated,"
said Betty Vreeland MSN, APRN, NP-C, BC, program manager at UMDNJ
University Behavioral HealthCare's Center for Excellence in Psychiatry.
"Tragically, this population loses between eight and 20 years
of life expectancy when compared to a non-psychiatric population.
For this reason, UMDNJ and Eli Lilly and Company have created
Pathways to Wellness," she said, "the first tool of its kind designed
to promote physical health and wellness in people living with
severe psychiatric conditions. We are very pleased to be able
to make this invaluable tool available to mental health care professionals
across the nation."
A recent survey of approximately 300 mental health professionals
nationwide indicated that the eight most important and under-addressed
physical health concerns faced by people with severe and persistent
mental illness include diabetes, obesity, substance abuse, tobacco
use, hypertension, coronary heart disease, sexually transmitted
diseases, and hepatitis B and C.
The Pathways to Wellness software addresses these problem areas
and can be used by a broad range of non-medically and medically
trained mental health professionals to facilitate a crucial dialogue
about physical health and wellness with the clients they serve.
Functional aspects of the software include:
* intuitive, menu-driven screens that allow mental health care
professionals and clients to collect lifestyle information that
contributes to or interferes with physical wellness;
* various formats that document discussions and concerns to
help clients stay on track, and provide useful information for
clinicians, primary care providers and other health care professionals
about client concerns;
* graphic displays to track a client's health behaviors, and
risk factors and progress over time;
* educational handouts about physical health and wellness issues
- a library of resources from governmental authorities including
the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
"We are hopeful that Pathways to Wellness will help address the
often overlooked physical health and wellness needs of people
living with severe and persistent mental illness," said Bert van
den Bergh, president, Neuroscience Products, Eli Lilly and Company.
"We are very pleased to join with UMDNJ in support of this important
"The Pathways to Wellness program, developed through an alliance
between UMDNJ and Eli Lilly and Company, is a wonderful example
of how the public and private sectors can work together to improve
patient care, with severe and persistent mental illness," said
Dr. Edward Kim, medical director of adult services at UMDNJ University
Behavioral HealthCare. "Many mental health professionals are uncomfortable
addressing physical concerns. This program was designed to help
bridge this gap between physical and mental health."