November 22, 2006

Psychiatric Wellness Program

A unique physical wellness program for psychiatric patients that has just begun at the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire du Quebec (CHUQ) in Quebec City was designed and implemented when Dr. Christian L Shriqui became tired of seeing relapsed patients in the emergency room because they had stopped taking their medications due to problems with weight gain.

Dr. Shriqui is a psychiatrist at CHUQ and also an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Laval in the same city. He described the wellness program to participants at the 56th Annual Conference of the Canadian Psychiatric Association meeting held in Toronto.

People aged 25 to 55 at risk for metabolic syndrome are eligible to participate and can be referred to this program by family doctors and psychiatrists. There is no charge for the program. Participants receive regular monitoring of their metabolic indices (lipids, fasting blood glucose, BP) and, after group training is completed, they are given an exercise program that they can do at home with the aid of a photo guide and a DVD.

Group training sessions are weekly for the first three months then quarterly to the end of the first year. At the end of the year when they graduate, clients receive both a diploma and celebratory champagne.

In addition to the exercise program, clients take three cooking workshops during the year so they can learn to prepare healthier meals for themselves. The workshops include tips on shopping and each one ends with a group lunch. They also have three nutrition workshops in that period and are shown the movie Supersize Me. These classes emphasize the need for eating healthy foods and how to read and interpret food labels.

Three educational workshops teach the clients about metabolic health, medications and their side effects, the need for prescription compliance, dealing with stress, budgetary management, and the role of hobbies, work, safe sex, smoking and drugs. One area that is emphasized is that of oral hygiene. Dr. Shriqui pointed out that this is an area that is often neglected in people with psychiatric problems and so topics include good gum care and how best to brush.

Finally, there are three sessions to teach participants various relaxation techniques that they can use to help reduce stress. So that clients can see their progress, a motivational vascular risk assessment tool is used which calculates their cardiovascular age.

Evaluations are being conducted at the end of each of these workshops and regularly at 12 weeks, and then at 6, 9 and 12 months. The ultimate goal is to help the clients empower themselves with the tools they need to continue exercising and leading healthier lives. The goal is to have one or two groups of 15 people enrolled simultaneously with new groups beginning every three months. Dr. Shriqui has been able to recruit a number of community partners in this program including supermarkets a gourmet shop and a gym.

From Symposium S10 Metabolic Health in Psychiatric Patients - 10 November 2006 Toronto By Marvin Ross.

Additional Reading:
Metabolic Syndrome (Diabetes) in Psychiatric Patients
20% of people with Schizophrenia will get Diabetes?
Psychiatrists Not Meeting Schizophrenia Patient Needs
Management of Antipsychotic-Induced Weight Gain
Diet May Affect Outcome of Schizophrenia


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