Wellness Initiative

Message from the Department Chairman, Dr. Doug Ziedonis

Integrating Wellness into Psychiatric Care is essential to Improving the Quality of Life, Increasing Life Span, Fighting Stigma and Addressing Health Disparities

The UMass Department of Psychiatry has made a commitment to integrating wellness into our routine practice and helping increase the lifespan of our patients. People with mental illness and/or substance use disorders are disproportionately affected by preventable diseases such as cardiac disease and cancer that are directly influenced by poor nutrition, lack of physical activity, tobacco use, stress and lack of preventive healthcare visits. People with serious mental illness are dying 20-25 years sooner than the general population due to these changeable problems. Ongoing tobacco use reduces the lifespan of people with substance use disorders by 12 plus years.

Mental health and physical health are inextricably linked. Good nutrition, regular physical activity, smoking cessation and stress management can all improve mental health, as well as physical health. For example, physical activity can lessen depression; and quitting tobacco use can decrease the amount of medication needed thus decreasing side effects. Small changes over time can add up to major benefits. Psychiatrists, faculty, staff and students are in a unique position to help address this health disparity either through a personal intervention with a patient/client or by making an appropriate referral.

This web page provides resources to support wellness interventions with patients/clients, and also provides information about our Wellness Initiative, including research, clinical, and education activities.