Stress in America town hall and media seen by more than three million viewers

Town hall focuses on health consequences of stress, especially for caregivers and those living with chronic illness, as well as the necessity of prevention and integrated care

By Public Relations staff

January 26, 2012—On January 11, 2012, APA’s annual Stress in America survey results were unveiled in Washington, DC, before a diverse audience of those with a stake in health care reform, including policy experts and representatives of health care organizations, along with reporters.

Stress in America™: Our Health at Risk was presented at the Newseum’s Knight Studio. Also for the first time, the event was webcast to a live audience.

View the webcast.

APA CEO and Executive Vice President Norman Anderson, PhD; APA President Suzanne Bennett Johnson, PhD; APA Executive Director for Professional Practice Katherine C. Nordal, PhD; and YMCA of the USA Vice President of Health Strategy and Innovation Jonathan Lever, JD, EdM participated in a town hall meeting moderated by Health Affairs editor-in-chief Susan Dentzer.

While in past years the annual survey results were presented to reporters in New York City, the decision was made to broaden the focus to involve the wider health care community, many of whom are based in Washington, DC, and start a conversation about “solutions that could lessen [the] impact [of stress], including policy changes and more community support,” according to Dentzer. Webcasting the event enabled APA to reach an even broader audience.

The town hall focused on the health consequences of stress, especially for caregivers and those living with chronic illness, as well as the necessity of prevention and integrated care.

“Unhealthy behaviors are major drivers of the chronic illnesses but…our health care systems are obsessed with treating the chronic illnesses rather than backing up a step focusing on prevention, focusing on lifestyle change, focusing on stress management to help prevent people from developing these devastating illnesses,” Dr. Anderson told the audience.

Dr. Johnson agreed. “If you have a disease [the current system] treats [you] with either drugs or surgeries, but we haven’t successfully addressed the behavioral aspects,” she said.

Getting help to make those behavioral health changes is crucial, said Dr. Nordal. “We spend about 75 percent of all our health care dollars on chronic illness, and then we have four major behaviors — alcohol and drug use, tobacco use, lack of exercise or sedentary lifestyle and poor nutritional habits — that lead to and exacerbate these chronic illnesses…It would be easy if we could all, just as the old saying goes, ‘Just do it’ and change our behavior, but it is just not that simple. It’s hard for people to change ingrained habits of behavior.”

Jonathan Lever spoke about the importance of community involvement, saying that the YMCA of the USA has “been really blessed to be able to work with the APA and their network of psychologists to run workshops, free workshops at local YMCAs, to help families that are struggling with childhood obesity in their family.”

A broadcast report of television coverage of the survey results and the town hall included 533 TV news segments nationwide with an audience of more than 20 million and an estimated publicity value of more than $1.5 million. More than 600 print and online stories have already appeared in local, regional, national and web publications. Coverage from major media outlets included CNN, USA Today, NBC and the Chicago Tribune.

In addition, through Twitter, messages about the event, survey and news articles written about Stress in America reached nearly one million people. These numbers include messages with the survey’s hashtag #stressapa, mentions of @APAHelpCenter, and links to major news articles about the survey or event.