New interactive APA resource illustrates mind-body connection

A new resource on the APA Help Center website visually illustrates the central message of APA's Mind/Body Health public education campaign: that mental health and physical health are directly connected

by Public Relations and Communications Staff

May 9, 2006 — A new resource on the APA Help Center website visually illustrates the central message of APA’s Mind/Body Health public education campaign: that mental health and physical health are directly connected.

The new “Mind/Body Health: Interactive” online tool uses dynamic images of the human body to educate the public about how stress can negatively affect the body. Users can click on labeled areas of a male and a female figure to learn how stress can take a toll on various areas of physical health, including the nervous system, endocrine system, respiratory system, cardiovascular system, musculoskeletal system, gastrointestinal system and reproductive system. Users can also link to articles and fact sheets about stress and psychology’s role in reducing stress.

“Mind/Body Health: Interactive” is the latest component of APA’s Mind/Body Health public education campaign, which highlights psychology’s unique and central role at the intersection of mental and physical well-being.

Stress offers a powerful way to illustrate the mind-body connection because it affects so many body systems, said Helen Mitternight, APA assistant executive director for public relations.

“We know from our surveys that most people say they feel stressed,” says Mitternight. “This lets people really see the negative effects of stress on the body, and the related fact sheets offer tips for managing that stress.”

“Mind/Body Health: Interactive” has several applications, says Beverly E. Thorn, Ph.D., professor and director of clinical psychology in the department of psychology at the University of Alabama.

“It gives a hands-on demonstration of how the body connects to the mind — and vice versa — and how the function of one influences the other,” says Thorn.

It also provides a schematic that members can use to educate clients about the complex physiological, emotional, and behavioral sequelae associated with stress, adds Thorn. “I envision the practitioner sitting with the client and demonstrating the use of the figure to explain the particular questions or issues that client has brought in.”

In addition to being posted on the front page of the Help Center, “Mind/Body Health: Interactive” will be distributed to APA’s public education campaign coordinators in PowerPoint and CD-ROM format for use at public education campaign events and presentations.

APA would like to thank following members contributed to the development of “Mind/Body Health: Interactive”: Beverly E. Thorn, Ph.D., ABPP, professor and director of clinical psychology, Department of Psychology, University of Alabama; Richard S. Surwit, PhD, ABPP, FAClinP, Duke University Medical Center; Susan Labott, PhD, ABPP, associate professor of psychology in psychiatry, Center for Cognitive Medicine, Department of Psychiatry, University of Illinois at Chicago; Matthew M. Burg, PhD, associate clinical professor of medicine, Division of General Medicine, Columbia University School of Medicine, and Section of Cardiovascular Medicine, Yale University School of Medicine; Daniel Bruns, PsyD, private practice; Helen L. Coons, PhD, Women’s Mental Health Associates; and Steven M. Tovian, PhD, ABPP, FAClinP, FAClinHP, Board Certified in Clinical Health and Clinical Psychology (ABPP), Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University, Evanston Northwestern Health Care.