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AMH Wellness Initiative

Many Oregonians with serious mental illnesses are dying prematurely because of disease, poor access to medical care and related problems. The Oregon Department of Human Services has launched a statewide "wellness" initiative to turn things around.

Those with serious mental illness are dying an average 25 years earlier than the general population, often due to heart disease, diabetes and problems related to side effects of medications, smoking, obesity and lack of holistic medical care, according to research by a national mental health council.

The Oregon Health Authority Addictions and Mental Health Division has begun forming a peer-driven task force to develop health and lifestyle measures and resources to increase the lifespan of those affected by mental illness. The task force will include persons with mental illness, their families, advocates, physicians, mental health professionals, physical fitness experts and others.

Wellness Initiative goals:

  • Work with partner DHS and community agencies to implement change in care coordination planning and wellness screening.
  • Fund grassroots person-to-person wellness efforts to support education and lifestyle changes at the individual level.
  • Develop a mechanism to increase the use of peer-to-peer support services so that individuals can find the side-by-side support needed to be successful in life style changes.
  • Fund community education programs in medication management and empowerment.
  • Recognize "wellness champions" among our legislative and administrative leaders to create sustainability for a statewide wellness effort.

Tool for providers and policymakers

Reports and Research


Resources/Web links

In the U.S. the six most common causes of death are: heart disease, cancer, stroke, lung conditions, accidents and diabetes. Most of these medical conditions occur in greater proportion in mental health consumers and may occur at an earlier age. The two exceptions are cancer, which may not occur at an increased rate, and accidents which occur at a higher rate in mental health consumers.

Here are some great resources that address these six causes of death and other important topics.

For more information on the AMH Wellness Initiative, contact LuAnn Meulink at luann.e.meulink@state.or.us or call 503-945-6289. ​