Tue. Jan 18th, 2022

On Oct. 1, groundbreaking information was unveiled at West Chester University at the event “Crossing Boundaries of Health Disciplines: Promoting Recovery and Resiliency.” National and regional health/behavioral educators, students, researchers, and community practitioners came together to discuss the how and why of moving toward an integrative health care system. Integrative healthcare utilizes the intelligence of all health professionals by increasing their collaboration among one another in order to promote recovery and resiliency in the person, family, and community.

Dr. Darla Spence Coffey opened the day by discussing the multiple dimensions of health versus health care, the social determinants that are protective factors for recovery and resiliency, and the changes needed in health education for an integrative and recovery-oriented model. She defined the current state of healthcare as being focused on lab tests and prescriptions. She spoke about the future of healthcare as more patient-centered, community-based, integrated, holistic, and with close attention to life transitions. She also emphasized that an individual’s health depends not only on his or her genes, diet, physical activity, and habits, but also his or her community, financial status, education, and housing, which are factors that are often overlooked in current healthcare practices. She urged listeners to check out the National Center for Interprofessional Education and Practice, which coordinates and studies the advancement of collaborative, team-based health professional education and patient centered care as an efficient model for improving health outcomes, and containing costs.

Commissioner of Philadelphia’s Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Service (DBHIDS), Dr. Arthur C. Evans was next on the podium, and he discussed a recovery- and resilience-oriented system of care, setting the framework for large-scale change in behavioral health care systems. DBHIDS’ four building blocks in the construction of this system include optimizing treatment services, recovery support services, community and cross-systems collaboration, and fiscal and administrative policy and procedure alignment.

After the keynote speakers, there were six different breakout sessions. Dr. Donald McCown and Dr. Christine Moriconi presented on the value and values of mindfulness for health professionals. The women who planned and arranged the Crossing Boundaries symposium, Drs. Nadine Bean and Patricia Davidson discussed how multi-dimensional recovery are connected to diet, depression, and disease management are all the means to multi-dimensional recovery. In order to address the common problem of ambivalence about change through person-centered counseling style, Dr. Julie Tennille and Dr. Casey Bohrman discussed the broad applicability of motivational interviewing. Jocelyn Spencer Sagrati explored yoga as a means to promote recovery across health settings. In their session, Miriam Pinto and Dr. Mary Wirshup collaborated to explain how practicing integrative health care facilitates healing and recovery. Molly Knowles and Sherita Mouzon discussed food insecurity and the impact on health, recovery, and resiliency.

As the Senior Director of State Policy at Mental Health America, Debbie Plotnick led the afternoon plenary session at the symposium to discuss turning the personal into policy. She delved into the multi-generational transmission of mental health disorders and community inclusion as the foundation for policy changes needed for a recovery and resiliency system of care. She explained how personal “medicine” like yoga, mindfulness, companion animals, and nature form the basis for health activation. Through sharing her personal and emotional life story, Plotnick showed first-hand how the personal can become policy. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the Mental Health Parity & Addiction Equity Act, and Peer Recovery Support Services are all examples of how the personal becomes policy. Her address concluded by discussing the B4Stage4 campaign, which focuses on prevention and earlier intervention, promotes wellness strategies, and supports comprehensive services.

To close the day, Andrew Trentacoste from Creative Health Services, Amy Lambert from La Comunidad Hispana, and Medical Director, Mary Wirshup from Community Volunteers in Medicine had a panel discussion. The goal of this gathering was to translate belief into action and promote recovery and resiliency through Integrative Health education.

To see full biographies of the remarkable speakers present at the symposium, live coverage from the day, and stay updated on the next steps, student can like the Facebook page of Crossing Boundaries WCU and follow the progress on Twitter @X_ingBoundaries.

Ashley Streumpfler is a third-year student majoring in communication studies. She can be reached at AS782685@wcupa.edu.

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