Empowering Veterans, their families, and staff to take ownership of their health and well-being by providing hope, compassion, and education. To make an appointment with Whole Health, please call 404-321-6111 ext. 413159.
What is Whole Health?
Whole Health, It Starts With Me
Whole Health is VA’s approach to care that supports your health and well-being. Whole Health centers around what matters to you, not what is the matter with you. This means your health team will get to know you as a person to develop a personalized health plan based on your values, needs, and goals.
Why is VA changing the way health care is provided?
Health outcomes in our country are poor; the US is now ranked 32nd in life expectancy, despite spending far more on health care than any other country. It is time to create a health system, rather than a disease care system; one that empowers and equips Veterans to discover a new path to health and well-being.
How is Whole Health different?
Whole Health puts you in control of your care. It focuses on self-care, skill-building, and support. These services are not diagnosis or disease based but support the personal health plan of each Veteran. Approaches such as stress reduction, yoga, tai chi, mindfulness, nutrition, acupuncture, and health coaching are available. You don’t have to wait until something is wrong to improve your well-being. Whole Health encourages you to set goals based on what is important to you and work toward those goals with your health team.
Will Whole Health help me?
Studies show Veterans who use Whole Health services report being able to manage stress better and note the care they receive as being more patient-centered. Veterans with chronic pain who used Whole Health services had a threefold reduction in opioid use compared to those who did not. Veterans report that pain management is not the only benefit of using Whole Health services. They are having success with weight loss, improved mental health as well as better vital signs and diagnostic test results because their goals focused on the eight self-care areas of the Circle of Health.
A whole health approach believes that your health goals should be based on your own values and desires. Getting to know you and what is important to you is an essential step to personalizing your care.
The most important ingredient to good health is how you take care of yourself. Waiting for health issues to appear and then seeking treatment is an outdated version of care. Therefore, whole health is also about learning skills and strategies to take care of yourself throughout your life to maximize wellbeing. This may include learning about nutrition, meditation, moving the body (i.e. yoga & tai chi), and developing healthy relationships.
Your healthcare should begin and end with what matters to you. The whole health approach empowers you to make collaborative decisions with your providers to set shared goals that directly inform the intervention and care you receive.
Learn about the Circle of Health
• “Me” at the Center. Whole Health accounts for each individual’s story and uniqueness. Patients are invited to explore what really, really matters to them their life aspirations, not just their symptoms. That exploration guides goal setting for their care. To make a change, people have to be aware of what they need.
• Mindful Awareness. Central to mindful awareness is the ability to be fully aware and present in a non-judgmental way. This means noticing symptoms, as well as noticing our behavior and thought patterns, and how they affect our health. Mindful awareness is about noticing what is happening when it happens.
• Self-Care. Your everyday actions make up the green circle. Your options and choices may be affected by many factors. Whole Health emphasizes the power of each individual to shape his/her health. Each of us has the innate capacity to heal, if only we are empowered to do so. Even people who cannot be cured, who cannot make their diseases go away, can experience a deeper sense of meaning, peace, joy, or comfort.
• Professional Care. While self-care is fundamental, all of us also rely on the support of others, including our team of health care professionals. Professional care focuses on tests, medications, treatments, surgeries, and counseling, and includes complementary approaches like acupuncture and yoga.
• Community. The outer ring includes the people, places, and resources in your community. Community refers to the spaces in which we live, the resources we have available to us day-to-day, and our relationships with others in our broader environment. It includes where a person lives, works, worships, and more. It includes all the people and groups a person connects with; it is everyone a Veteran relies on, as well as those who rely on him or her in return. Community also connects with social determinants of health, such as education, socioeconomic status, and access to care. From public health to health policy to quality improvement initiatives, many different factors shape health beyond the personal level. Just as there is a “Whole Me” at the center of the circle, there is a “Whole We” that enfolds it. This “We” can extend beyond individuals to social services, support groups, neighborhoods, culture, religious groups, Veteran organizations, and local and national health care systems.
Get to Know Whole Health at the Atlanta VA
1. Check-out the Virtual Whole Health Introduction and learn about 8 areas of your life that are key to your health and well-being. Reflect on what is important to you and begin the process of setting health goals that reflect what really matters to you!
2. Attend additional virtual Whole Health classes and gain skills that will assist you in improving all aspects of your physical and mental health and relationships.
3. Work with a Whole Health Coach who will provide coaching as you pursue your health and wellness goals.
Current Classes - All Virtual!
- Introduction to Whole Health
- Taking Charge of My Life and Health
- Writing to Heal
- Mindful Meditation
- Heart Math - Resilience Training
- Tai Chi
- Cooking for Wellness
- Food as Medicine
- Building Healthy Relationships
- Adaptations to Increase Physical Activity
- Getting to Know Herbs and Supplements
- Stress Reduction Basics
- Health Promotion Through Physical Activity
Whole Health Class Descriptions
Currently All Classes are Virtual
Introduction to Whole Health
This one time, 2-hour class will introduce you to the basic principles of Whole Health and 8 areas of your life that are most important as you work to improve your health and well-being. This class also begins the important process of self-reflection about what matters to you. Both Co-Ed and Women's Only classes available.
Taking Charge of My Life and Health
This 4-week class is the follow up to Whole Health Introduction. Participants will discuss what changes you may want to make to maximize your health and well-being and explore further the question- “what matters most to you?” Both Co-Ed and Women's Only classes available.
Writing to Heal - Meets once a week for 6 weeks
In this series you will examine the healing power of reflective writing. During each class we will explore a different aspect of the connection between writing and healing, read and discuss a short piece of writing, and practice various types of expressive writing.
Mindful Meditation - 7-week class
Class begins with a 1-hour introduction session after which you can sign-up for the 7-week Mindfulness Meditation class. Mindfulness is the practice of bringing your attention to the present moment with openness and non-judgement. Mindful Meditation can help reduce insomnia, stress, chronic pain and depression.
Heart Math Resilience Training
Heart Math is a stress management system that will empower you to self-regulate emotions, reduce stress and increase resilience. Participants learn biofeedback techniques and receive a biofeedback device.
Tai Chi - Weekly
Tai Chi is a mindful moving meditation that incorporates regulating the breath, adjusting the posture, and helping your “Qi” flow. Rooted in ancient Asian traditions, Qi is your vital energy. When your Qi freely flows, you are balanced and healthy.
Chair & Mat Yoga - Weekly
Yoga is movement combined with breathing and helps make connection with our physical bodies, regulate the nervous system, and practice attention management. Yoga is traditionally practiced on a mat on the floor, but this class is adapted for chair practice. Both Co-Ed and Women's Only classes available.
Cooking for Wellness - Occurs monthly
This class focuses on the basics of healthy cooking with tips and strategies to improve your overall health and nutrition. You will learn to prepare simple delicious recipes.
Food as Medicine - Two, 1-hour classes
Your Food is Your Medicine! Learn the basics of Nutrition including how much fiber and water you need, the basics of gut health, anti-inflammatory meal planning, as well as macronutrient, vitamin and mineral needs.
Building Healthy Relationships - 4-week class
Veterans explore what is important to them about their relationships and what aspects of relationships are most meaningful. They will explore ways to maintain trust and good communication.
Adaptations to Increase Physical Activity
Want to be more physically active but concerned about limitations or the possibility of injury or increased pain? If so, then this class is for you. Work with an Occupational Therapist to learn how to safely incorporate physical activity into your daily routine.
Basics of Stress Reduction - 2-hour class
This class that introduces participants to essential components of stress reduction skills and helps Veterans to assess their skills in this area and how to utilize self-care in their lives.
Health Promotion through Physical Activity
A nine-course series covering various topics as it relates to improving one's health by increasing physical activity levels. This course is designed to educate and empower Veterans to adopt a more active role in improving their quality of life.
Introduction to musculoskeletal health & wellness
Components of health and wellness
Psychology of physical activity
Influence of physical activity on cholesterol & diabetes
Influence of physical activity on chronic stress & hypertension
Low back pain and wellness
Orthopedic joint replacements and physical activity
Chronic pain and physical activity
Designing your own exercise program
Meet the Whole Health Team
Dr. Stephanie Brown-Johnson
Physician, Primary Care
VA Atlanta health care
Dr. Stefan Schmertz
Clinical Psychologist, Mental Health
VA Atlanta health care
Dr. Alice Fann
VA Atlanta health care
Kelly Fripps, MSHS, BSN, RN-BC
Health Promotion Disease Prevention Program Manager
VA Atlanta health care
Want to learn more about Whole Health at the Atlanta VA and schedule a class?
You can contact us directly at 404-321-6111 ext. 413159.