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South Carolina Arthritis Prevention and Control Program

SC Public Health and Mental Health Partner To Improve the Quality of Life For People with Arthritis and Other Chronic Physical and Mental Health Conditions

Issue

Nearly 46 million Americans have arthritis, the nation’s leading cause of disability.  It affects people of all ages and all racial and ethnic groups and has a substantial effect on the quality of life.  In South Carolina approximately 40% of those with doctor diagnosed arthritis report some form of activity limitation.  The cycle of pain combined with activity limitation that people with arthritis often experience, takes a toll on both their physical and mental health.     

People with both arthritis and chronic joint symptoms report a higher average number of days of poor physical and mental health than people without chronic joint symptoms.  The individuals with arthritis have more than three times as many days of impaired physical health and more than twice as many days of impaired mental health as those without arthritis.

To further complicate the picture, people with arthritis commonly have other chronic conditions, such as diabetes, stroke, and heart disease.  Due to the complex array of symptoms caused by multiple conditions, these individuals are even more likely to experience poor physical and mental health.

Intervention

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control Arthritis Program developed a partnership with the South Carolina Department of Mental Health to implement the Stanford Chronic Disease Self-Management Program.  The program, referred to as "Living Well" in South Carolina, is a low-cost, proven prevention strategy.  The goal of the partnership is to improve the quality of life for people with chronic physical and mental health conditions. 

Mental Health staff from all seventeen Area Mental Health Centers throughout the state will be trained to offer the program for patients who are expected to benefit from this type of approach.  The program builds self-confidence and skills necessary to make positive lifestyle changes that will enhance a patient's overall health and wellbeing.  It also helps participants learn how to manage the difficult emotional symptoms and the pain cycle that result from living with these conditions. 

Impact

  • Increased collaboration by the State Public Health and Mental Health Departments
  • Living Well embedded in the SC Department of Mental Health system as a core service
  • Patients with serious mental health illnesses and emotional disorders throughout South Carolina benefit from a holistic approach that addresses both physical and mental health
  • An opportunity to reach and to evaluate health outcomes for a population that has not previously had access to this program