what is WHAM?
Whole Health Action Management (WHAM) is a peer-led intervention program that helps individuals living with chronic health conditions to create sustainable new whole health behaviors, including physical, mental, and spiritual. WHAM empowers individuals to take charge of their health and wellbeing through effective self-management techniques and small, dynamic groups where each person provides support for one another in achieving their goals. Preliminary research shows that nearly 85% of WHAM participants have reached their whole health goals. Two key elements lead to success in WHAM: a proven process for learning how to activate and sustain new healthy habits and a group of supportive peers who are invested in each other’s success while working on their own health goals.

WHAM was created as a way to increase opportunities for the “peer workforce.” In the mental health and substance use world, a “peer” refers to someone who has lived experience and is trained as a mental health worker. With relatable and direct personal experience, a peer is a guide for others who are working towards long-term wellness and recovery for a mental health or substance use condition.

In partnership with, The Petit Family Foundation and The Hartford, Mental Health Connecticut certified peers to become trainers to help individuals in their community to create and work toward a whole health and resiliency goal, provide peer support to reach his/her whole health and resiliency goal, and facilitate in an 8-week whole health and resiliency peer group.

why WHAM?
Delivered by the National Council for Behavioral Health, WHAM is supported by both the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) and is founded on researched chronic disease self-management programs such as HARP (Health and Recovery Peer Program) and science-based health and resiliency factors like the Relaxation Response, developed by the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital. This partnership and science-based approach speaks to the future of integrated health.

Mental Health Connecticut is the first organization to bring WHAM to the state. Programs like WHAM are instrumental in supporting and sustaining the long-term health of individuals because it allows individuals to access their innate capacity to heal. WHAM is a powerful program intended to strengthen the peer workforce’s role in healthcare delivery. It provides peer support professionals and volunteers with a format for 10-12 individuals to engage in 8-week WHAM groups and one-on-one support as the participants work toward achieving and maintaining whole health goals. The skills learned in WHAM help participants learn effective self-management tools and goal setting to help form new healthy habits that last a lifetime.

joining a WHAM support group
WHAM is open to anyone who wishes to learn and adopt sustainable new health behaviors. WHAM support groups are 8-week long sessions. Participants are asked to commit to attending all eight weeks. Support groups are available after the 8 week sessions. See below to find an upcoming WHAM group in your area.

Want to start a WHAM group near you? Contact Lyne Stokes at: lstokes@mhconn.org

  • Mental Health Connecticut – Waterbury, CT Starts Tuesday, July 18, 2017 – Call Alisa Rizzuti at: 203-756-5772 or click here for details
  • Bridges – Milford, CT Fridays in July and August 2017 – Call Wendy at 203-878-6365, ext. 428 or click here for details

Additional WHAM support groups will be added to this site as they become available. For more information on WHAM, please contact Lyne Stokes at 860-523-0289 ext. 211, or email lstokes@mhconn.org.

Following the training, participants join a national listserv to foster an online peer support network and share tips and tools for success.

Congratulations to the WHAMmers who completed this training all over the state including in East Hartford, Hartford, Milford, Meriden, Danbury, and Waterbury.

become a WHAM facilitator
Mental Health Connecticut is calling all individuals who provide peer-delivered services and supports (both professionals and volunteers) to become Connecticut facilitators for Whole Health Action Management (WHAM). WHAM facilitators will become certified upon completion of the training.

Individuals who identify as peers, provide peer-delivered services (including professionals and volunteers), and who currently facilitate peer programs or who have the intention of becoming a volunteer are welcome to apply. Experience in the health fields and/or with running peer groups is preferred.

Individuals who identify as a peer:

  • Identify as having lived experience related to mental health and/or addiction.
  • Identify as having navigated the service delivery systems, to achieve a self-defined purpose in life.
  • Are willing to disclose personal experience of working through emotional distress and extreme states.

All participants agree to create and work toward a whole health and resiliency goal, provide peer support to reach his/her whole health and resiliency goal, and facilitate or participate in an 8-week whole health and resiliency peer group.

what does the training entail?
WHAM is a science-based health plan, created by peers for peers, to teach participants how to set and achieve whole health goals through weekly action plans and 8-week support groups. The two-day, in-person WHAM training teaches participants to facilitate WHAM groups that help their peers reach whole health, wellness, and resiliency goals through effective self-management.

WHAM training supports the peer workforce to use person-centered planning and weekly action plans to create new health behaviors by engaging in weekly groups. It also teaches basic health screens for prevention and encourages shared decision making with health professionals. WHAM is founded on researched chronic disease self-management programs such as HARP (Health and Recovery Peer Program) and science-based health and resiliency factors like the Relaxation Response, developed by the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital. WHAM training prepares participating peer leaders to:

  • Engage in person-centered planning to identify strengths and supports in 10 science-based whole health and resiliency factors.
  • Write a whole health goal based on person-centered planning.
  • Create and log a weekly action plan.
  • Participate in peer support groups to create new health behavior.
  • Elicit the Relaxation Response to manage stress.
  • Engage in cognitive skills to avoid negative thinking.

Following the training, participants join a national listserve to foster an online peer support network and share tips and tools for success.

how do I apply?
In order to be considered for future facilitator trainings, please click the below button and complete the form. Those who apply will be added to a contact list and updated as we obtain funding and plan future WHAM Facilitator training sessions.

For more information on WHAM, please contact Lyne Stokes at 860-523-0289 ext. 211, or email lstokes@mhconn.org.

meet the trainers
Jean Dukarski – WHAM Senior Trainer
Larry Fricks – Developer of the WHAM curriculum

“Research has shown that people with the strongest social ties have dramatically lower rates of disease and premature death than those who feel isolated and alone. Regular participation in organized social networks — like peer support groups — is at the core of why WHAM is so effective in whole health self-management.” – Larry Fricks, Creator of WHAM, National Council for Behavioral Health

about mental health

Mental health and wellness are integral to whole health. However, it is not uncommon for people to experience times in their lives or in the lives of their loved ones when optimal mental health is unattainable. In fact, one in four people will experience a mental illness sometime during their life.

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About Mental Health

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