To help people better recognize and achieve wellness – including in the workplace – the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) created the Eight Dimensions of Wellness:
- Emotional—Coping effectively with life and creating satisfying relationships
- Environmental—Good health by occupying pleasant, stimulating environments that support well-being
- Financial—Satisfaction with current and future financial situations
- Intellectual—Recognizing creative abilities and finding ways to expand knowledge and skills
- Occupational—Personal satisfaction and enrichment from one’s work
- Physical—Recognizing the need for physical activity, healthy foods, and sleep
- Social—Developing a sense of connection, belonging, and a well-developed support system
- Spiritual—Expanding a sense of purpose and meaning in life”
While individuals can adopt practical strategies to strive toward these eight dimensions on their own, employers can help by targeting that second dimension: the environment in which people work. In particular, employers can provide a number of services, such as healthy food discounts or organization group exercise, to promote employees’ cardiovascular health and, ultimately, their overall wellness.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), “employers play an integral role in helping individuals improve their cardiovascular health by creating worksites that support blood pressure control, cholesterol management, tobacco control, good nutrition, and physical activity.” The department’s national initiative Million Hearts® aims to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes by 2017 by bringing together employers, communities, and organizations to implement interventions that work.
So, what exactly do these interventions look like? The city of Asheville, NC, and a local hospital system implemented a community-based program to help 12,000 employees control their blood pressure control and manage their cholesterol. According to HHS, “participating employees received employer-sponsored face-to face counseling and educational classes with clinically trained educators and pharmacist, [along with] reduced or eliminated copayments on medications.” As result, employees experienced fewer cardiovascular health incidents, had lower medical expenses, achieved their blood pressure and cholesterol goals more frequently, missed fewer days of work, and improved their overall health.
In the Eight Dimensions of Wellness, SAMHSA emphasizes that individuals can still achieve wellness even when they have a health condition, like heart disease. And the employees in Asheville, NC, demonstrated just that. Inspired by their success? For additional tips on creating environments that support employees’ cardiovascular health, see the Cardiovascular Health Action Steps for Employers guide from the Million Hearts® initiative.