Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men. In fact, African American men are disproportionately affected by heart disease – more than other race or ethnicity. Heart disease also disproportionately impacts individuals living with depression. According to the American Heart Association, "For years, doctors thought the connection between mental health and heart health was strictly behavioral – such as the person who is feeling down seeking relief from smoking, drinking or eating fatty foods. That thinking has started to change. Research shows there could be physiological connections, too. The biological and chemical factors that trigger mental health issues also could influence heart disease."

All too often, people with a mental and/or substance use disorder suffer from premature morbidity and mortality as a result of poor diet, lack of exercise, and lack of primary prevention services. More than 80% of individuals with serious mental illness are overweight or obese, contributing to them dying at three times the rate of the overall population. In addition, the smoking rate among adults with a mental and/or substance use disorder is 94% higher than adults without these disorders.

At Horizon, we believe we can effect change by taking simple steps toward wellness. We call it the CEO/Wellness Challenge. The goal of the challenge is to have the Horizon team, consumers and communities adopt new, heart-healthy behavior. Simple changes can make a big difference!

For example:

  • Talk to your doctor about ways to control high blood pressure.
  • Add physical activity to your daily routine by joining the YMCA (or, if you are a Horizon employee or family member, join our exercise classes at Old Forest Road after work).
  • Make heathy eating swaps, such as using fresh or dried herbs and spices instead of salt.
  • Quit smoking!

Horizon is also sponsoring the American Heart Association’s Healthy For Good Heart Walk in Lynchburg. You may join our team by going to www2.heart.org and search for the 1 Horizon team.


Be very well,

Damien Cabezas, CEO

Horizon Behavioral Health