wellness and lifestyle


Focusing on wellness and a healthy lifestyle is particularly important for people with, or at risk for, substance abuse and behavioral health conditions. At Spark of Hope, we believe that Behavioral health is a critical aspect of maintaining physical health and wellness. People with mental and/or substance use disorders typically die years earlier than the general population. A 2006 nationally representative survey reported that individuals with mental disorders died an average of 8.2 years younger than the rest of the population. Individuals with substance use conditions are often at higher risk for HIV and AIDS as well as hepatitis C due to intravenous drug use.

As a result of elevated tobacco use and other risk factors, people with serious mental illnesses—such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder—experience significant health disparities and are at increased risk for early mortality. A SAMHSA-funded study from 2006 revealed that people with serious mental illnesses experience heightened morbidity and mortality and often die decades earlier than the general population.This premature death is mostly due to preventable medical conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, or infectious diseases (including HIV and AIDS). Other risk factors affecting their longevity include poverty, social isolation, trauma, obesity, side effects of medication, and lack of access to quality health care. In fact, among individuals with serious mental illnesses, 95.4% of deaths were caused by medical conditions such as cardiovascular disease (33.9%), cancer (21%), and pulmonary disease (13.5%).

SAMHSA practice has proven that integrating mental health, substance use, and primary care services produces the best outcomes and proves the most effective approach to caring for people with multiple health care needs. Wellness and lifestyle strategies are best achieved by a combination of the following:

  1. Follow a Healthy Lifestyle
    • Don’t smoke or use addictive substances.
    • Limit alcohol intake.
    • Eat healthy foods and exercise regularly.
    • Monitor your weight, blood pressure, sleep patterns, and other important health indicators including oral (teeth and gum) health.
  2. Work with a Primary Care Doctor
    • Communication between people with mental health problems, mental health professionals, and primary care providers is essential.
    • See a primary care physician regularly (at least twice a year).
  3. Ask Questions!
    • Know about medications or alternative treatments.
    • Review and act on results of check-ups and health screenings.
    • Monitor existing and/or new symptoms.
    • Speak up about any concerns or doubts.Get Help Now