H.E.A.L.T.H. stands for Healthy Eating and Activity: Lessons to Take to Heart.
At the Hamilton Program for Schizophrenia, a pilot project was initiated in 2004 aimed to evaluate a group-based curriculum incorporating the principles of the Stages of Change Model in effort to establish a standard weight management program for people with SMI. The curriculum involved psycho-educational interventions with emphasis on the importance of nutrition, physical activity, and behavioural strategies to reinforce modifiable lifestyle changes.
Nineteen participants with a SMI participated in two sessions per week for 6 months, as well as a 30-minute individual session. Pre-measures were administered to assess the physical psychological, behavioural and nutritional health domains and were repeated at 3 and 6 months. Participants were weighed weekly.
The main finding was that there was significant weight loss, an average loss of almost 14 pounds. There was a significant improvement in terms of reduced BMI from pre-group obesity levels to much lower scores and reduced waist circumference. There was significantly reduced mean total cholesterol and reduced LDL levels. In terms of self-reported improvements, based on SF-36 Health Survey results, participants indicated benefits in their sense of physical health functioning. Single case information demonstrates an improvement of blood glucose levels from borderline diabetic to normal values.
This curriculum continued to be delivered in our community mental health clinic until 2007. Since 2007, curriculum development has focused on the maintenance phase to enhance supports, reinforce new skills and knowledge and provide structured physical activity. In addition clients are always invited to have individual sessions to focus on their individual healthy lifestyle goals.
We continue to rework and enhance our maintenance health group today. In addition to these programs our social/rehabilitation programs have various activities promoting physical activity such as volleyball, walking group and Extreme Connex (focusing on more physical activities for clients who have the mobility to do so including Laser Tag, Go-carting etc.).