whole health

The COVID-19 pandemic has shined much needed light on "whole person health" by highlighting the correlation between behavioral health and overall wellness. Whole person health is the recognition that our mental and physical health are interconnected and that an illness rarely affects a single body part or system.

Research shows that improving one area of a person's physical, emotional and mental health can benefit the others. For example, we have long known that gut health is directly linked to mental health, but whole health argues these connections run throughout the entire body.

Take a moment to reflect on your health - what are you missing, and what are your goals? Make a list, then talk about it with your care team. Together, you can make a plan to address the changes you'd like to make.

As we age, chronic, or ongoing, conditions such as diabetes, heart

disease, chronic pain and others, tend to surface more frequently, but research suggests mentally healthy adults reported the fewest chronic diseases of all ages. By starting to care for your mental and behavioral health as soon as possible, patients can help safeguard the body for its future.

Just as we make yearly visits to our primary care physicians, it's essential to prioritize regular mental health maintenance checks, whether with your physician, a specialist, or free self-assessment tools. It's no secret that, for many, the pandemic has intensified and worsened mental health issues. The silver lining? Broad recognition has reduced the stigma and more than ever, virtual tools are available to help maintain treatment plans, improve access and remove cost barriers.

Chronic conditions, frequent trips to specialists and prescriptions are key drivers behind expensive out-of-pocket healthcare costs. By investing in whole health - examining diet, exercise and mental health, in conjunction with regular primary care visits - you can improve your health as well as your long-term financial health.

Look for professionals who subscribe to the whole health model and will proactively seek to coordinate care with other providers supporting your physical and mental health. When physician teams communicate effectively, patients become centered in their care.

Minor changes such as investing in self-care, improving lifestyle choices and early behavioral intervention if needed are key steps in ensuring overall wellness.

For more health and wellness information, visit UHC.com.

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