Schizophrenia and the 8 Dimensions of Wellness

  • SAMHSA the government agency created the 8 Dimensions of Wellness Model adapted from Swarbrick, M. (2006). A Wellness Approach. Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal, 29(4), 311–314.


    The dimensions of wellness are linked to schizophrenia because when the 8 aspects of recovery take root in a person's life a better outcome is achieved.


    The first dimension is:


    Emotional—Coping effectively with life and creating satisfying relationships.  Sometimes, feeling what you feel and thinking what you think can be a juggling act of thoughts and feelings, trying not to have your mood fall down all the time.  Keeping things in balance is possible when the sixth dimension: the physical and the other dimensions are in place.  A person with schizophrenia might also have depression and need an anti-depressant.

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    The second dimension is:


    Environmental—Good health by occupying pleasant, stimulating environments that support well-being.  Having a place to call your own is imperative for success in recovery.  Too often, supportive housing is located in a dangerous apartment complex or neighborhood.  The goal is to obtain a free market apartment in a livable neighborhood.  Living at home with your parents can be an option yet plans need to be in place for when your mother and father are no longer here.


    The third dimension is:


    Financial–Satisfaction with current and future financial situations.  The quickest route to lifelong poverty is to collect an SSI check yet a lot of people diagnosed with schizophrenia are afraid to go to work or are not motivated to seek paid employment.  I don't understand this.  Parents should absolutely and without delay set up a special needs trust for their son or daughter if he or she will collect lifetime SSI. 


    The fourth dimension is:


    Intellectual—Recognizing creative abilities and finding ways to expand knowledge and skills.  The absence of a job is no excuse for not spending your time productively.  You can go on Idealist or Volunteer Match to find a volunteer job linked to your passion.  Take an adult education course, read books, listen to music, play an instrument, sing or paint or bake cookies.  Do something other than watch TV all day.


    The fifth dimension is:


    Occupational—Personal satisfaction and enrichment from one’s work.  Like I said, you can do volunteer work if you don't have a regular paid job and this is OK too.  Your work might be babysitting your niece while your sister is at work.  Recovery is a job too and living in recovery is its own reward when you derive joy and satisfaction from your life.  Remember the Wilma Rudolph quote: "The triumph can't be had without the struggle."  Having the 8 dimensions in your life can ameliorate your challenges.  Having a job you like to do reduces the impact of your disability.


    The sixth dimension is:


    Physical—Recognizing the need for physical activity, healthy foods and sleep.  It's hard to say if this is the most important dimension yet it's up there because getting enough exercise and sleep and rest and recreation along with eating healthful foods enables you to tackle the other dimensions.  Individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia are at risk for weight gain that can lead to diabetes and heart disease so that's why the sixth dimension is one of the most critical to have in place.


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    The seventh dimension is:


    Social—Developing a sense of connection, belonging, and a well-developed support system.  In my view this is the most critical component of having a successful recovery.  Each of us must reach out for help when we need it and be willing to listen to what people we trust tell us.  We are free to use their advice or not yet it's imperative to reach out.  Too often people diagnosed with schizophrenia isolate in their rooms which is not healthy.


    The eight dimension is:


    Spiritual—Expanding our sense of purpose and meaning in life:.  This can be from church or from a Higher Power you designate or from simply getting out in natural green space or doing whatever gives you joy and satisfaction.  I don't think sitting in your apartment watching TV all day is a way to gain a sense of purpose and meaning in life.  Not for a person with schizophrenia.  It might just lead to an early death.  I chose to get a full-time job in 1990 as an administrative assistant with employer health benefits because I wanted to feel like I was productive and contributing my talents to the world.  I recommend doing something positive and uplifting with your time as often as possible every week.

Published On: June 26, 2014