FHR partners to launch behavioral healthcare initiative

Published 02/07/2013

FHR and Vinfen co-pilot WHAM, first health prevention education program in Massachusetts

Cape Cod, MA – February 7, 2013This winter, for the first time ever, the state of Massachusetts will offer a federally-approved and nationally-promoted behavioral healthcare prevention education program. FHR (Fellowship Health Resources), a behavioral healthcare and substance addiction agency, in collaboration with Vinfen, a human services organization, will launch the first offering of Whole Health Action Management (WHAM) to both persons living with mental health challenges and mental health professionals involved in their care.

"WHAM is a peer support program designed to teach the why, what, and how of taking charge of your whole health in a very simple and interactive way,” explained Bob Rousseau, FHR Corporate Director of Peer Recovery Services.

Together, Rousseau and Elaine Reilly, Vinfen Peer Coordinator, have begun facilitating WHAM at the Resource Community Center in Hyannis. Eight consumer-provider pairs have volunteered to participate for ten weeks. To begin the program, participants crafted weekly wellness goals and action plans that were positive, measurable, and attainable. Keeping a weekly log, all pairs will record their progress and receive support through their partner, as well as the group as a whole.

WHAM was developed by Larry Fricks, Deputy Director of HRSA (Health Resources and Services Administration), Ike Powell, Appalachian Consulting Group’s Director of Training, and Dr. Peggy Swabrick, Founder of Peer Wellness Coaching. This program was created as a direct response to the Morbidity and Mortality Medical study of 2006 that determined persons living with serious and persistent mental illness that are treated in state mental health programs die at an average of 25 years sooner than their counterparts in the general population. Together, Fricks and Powell utilized SAMHSA's (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) model to respond to the urgent need to integrate primary and behavioral healthcare with prevention education.

“As the country continues a national conversation on mental illness, with focus on the centrality of prevention education in the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, this program is truly on the forefront of providing much-needed information to our communities," said Rousseau.

WHAM kicked off on January 29, and will end with a graduation ceremony and reception on Tuesday, April 2.

"We have all tried to make changes, big and small," stated Reilly. "We have most likely been given tools or been taught a process. We get motivated, and then the excitement starts to fade. What distinguishes WHAM is the emphasis on peers supporting peers, people who really understand the struggles with making healthy changes and encouraging others to stick with it. That will make the difference."

For more information about WHAM, please contact Bob Rousseau at 774-634-7976.