August 03, 2004

Computer Tool to Link Mental/Physical Health

"Pathways To Wellness", a unique computer software program designed to address some common physical ailments that afflict the mental illness population, was launched today through a collaborative effort of Eli Lilly and The University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey.

The program is aimed at mental health professionals, and is meant to help facilitate positive changes in lifestyle and behavior that might alleviate common co-occuring physical problems in their clients. Says Betty Vreeland, program manager at the UMDNJ University Behavioral Healthcare Center for Excellence in Psychiatry, "Many individuals living with severe mental illness also have co-occurring physical problems that are frequently misdiagnosed, under- diagnosed, or under-treated. Tragically, this population loses between eight and 20 years of life expectancy when compared to a nonpsychiatric population."

In creating their software, developers polled 300 mental health professionals for their opinions on what are the most common and under-addressed physical health and wellness issues for the psychiatric population. Results of the nationwide survey indicated eight top concerns: diabetes, obesity, substance abuse, tobacco use, hypertension, coronary heart disease, sexually transmitted diseases, and hepatitis B and C.

To address these concerns, the software includes features to collect health and wellness lifestyle information on a client, discussions and concerns to help a client stay on track, graphical displays of a clients health behaviors, risk factors, and progress over time, and a library of educational resources from government sources such as the NIH and the Center for Disease Control.

"The Pathways to Wellness program, developed through an alliance between UMDNJ and Eli Lilly and Company, is a wonderful example of how the public and private sectors can work together to improve patient care, with severe and persistent mental illness," said Dr. Edward Kim, medical director of adult services at UMDNJ University Behavioral HealthCare.

For more information, see the press release 'UMDNJ Partners with Eli Lilly and Company to Launch New Software Program to Help Bridge the Gap Between Physical and Mental Health' (Aug 2, 2004) at Yahoo Financial News (


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