Media: Project Video
In SHAPE was featured as a "promise video" on the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation website. That video is available for viewing here.
As reported in the Huffington Post on February, 23,2012, New Hampshire has won a $10 million federal grant to replicate InSHAPE at the rest of the state's community mental health centers. The goal is to expand a program that now serves 150 people to 4,500 participants in the next five years.
In February 2009, mental health centers in Providence, RI and Flint, MI engaged in a year-long training process to become certified In SHAPE providers. Read more about In SHAPE’s strategic business plan for replication in this RWJF Grant Results Report.
The In SHAPE program promotes physical fitness as part of a comprehensive effort to help people with severe mental illness improve their health and quality of life. The project was born of inspiration, determination and collaboration. Here's the story:
After he attended the funeral of the fourth mental health care consumer in as many months, Monadnock Family Services CEO Ken Jue was struck by the loss of physical health that often accompanies severe mental illness. Research shows that the average life span of individuals with severe mental illness is 10-20 years shorter than that of the general population.
Faced with the utter anguish of their illness, individuals with mental illness frequently become addicted to tobacco, alcohol and other drugs. They are at greater risk of diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease, often due to the weight gain that results from loss of motivation, poor diet and the adverse side effects of powerful medications.
Jue recalls deciding that, as mental health providers, “it is morally indefensible to accept the status quo [early death among the mentally ill] and do nothing to alter this situation.”
Surprised that he couldn’t find an existing program to adopt, Jue assembled a small planning group including agency directors and potential community partners. Local funders supported a pilot project “to improve physical health and quality of life and reduce the risk of preventable diseases and early death for individuals with severe mental illness.”
Now accompanied by their personal health mentors, In SHAPE participants engage in fitness activities three times a week at collaborating community sites. Their choices range from aerobics, yoga and weight training at the YMCA to classes at a local dance studio, hiking, and a swimming program at a hotel pool. They are offered nutrition counseling, smoking cessation support and help negotiating primary care and managing chronic conditions.
When they achieved a matching grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Local Initiative Funding Partners (LIFP) program, director Pauline Seitz remembers, “The support of the local community was striking. Local grantmakers had funded the initial pilot and enthusiastically endorsed the model.
“Moreover,” Seitz notes, “the way In SHAPE engages participants in existing community activities is cost effective and reduces the isolation of individuals living with severe mental illness.”
New Hampshire Dartmouth Psychiatric Research Center is conducting a formal 18-month evaluation of the program, but participants have already shared their successes with project manager Gail Williams. “Some In SHAPE consumers report they have been able to reduce their blood pressure medicine and even their psychotropic medication,” Williams says. Out of more than 150 participants in the first two years, In SHAPE boasts an attrition rate of only 22 percent compared to 25-33 percent average dropout for healthy adults enrolled in formal exercise programs.
Congratulations to In SHAPE’s creators and staff and thanks for allowing us to highlight the program on the cover of the 2008 LIFP Call for Proposals. Their commitment to innovation and community collaboration, their focus on helping a vulnerable population by trying to change accepted systems and practices, and their partnership with local grantmakers exemplify many of the traits for which LIFP projects are known.
One-Page Fact Sheet & Project Story
As this project approached the end of their LFP grant period, this one-page report of project objectives and accomplishments was presented at a Local Funding Partnerships annual meeting. Please read the report.
In addition, the project presents a story that illustrates their work. Please read the story.