This is going to make for a pretty long post, but here’s something on the UC Office of the President’s website about “Optum,” a “wellness” company UC has contracted with:

Asked Questions
Background Information
What is UC Living Well?
UC Living Well is a system-wide wellness initiative coordinated by the UC Office of the
President. The goal of UC Living Well is to encourage all members of the UC community
to lead and maintain a healthy lifestyle and to access the wellness activities and programs
offered by UC campuses and medical centers.
Who is Optum?
Optum is a health and well-being company that designs and operates programs to help
individuals get — and stay — healthy. Serving nearly 60 million people, Optum is one of the
nation’s largest health and well-being companies. Our team of health coaches, nutritionists,
physical trainers, wellness consultants, online health experts and other professionals are
here to provide you with guidance and support, tailored to your individual situation, to help
you reach your health goals.
Why should I participate?
Making healthy choices is a personal decision that can have many positive impacts on your
life. Whether you want to fit into your favorite pair of jeans again, or just be more active and
eat healthier, manage your stress or finally give up a bad habit, we have a program that can
help. We provide you with options so you can tailor your experience. Plus, participation
can not only benefit your total health and wellness, but it can earn you a $75 prepaid Visa
Rewards Card.
Who is eligible to participate in the UC Living Well programs from Optum?
Everyone is welcome to participate! Employees and retirees are welcome and encouraged
to participate in UC Living Well programs. Spouses or domestic partners are welcome to
participate in coaching programs online or on the phone but aren’t eligible to receive the
$75 gift card. If you are a member of certain unions, you also may not be eligible for the
incentive. For a list of unions eligible for the incentive go to uclivingwell.ucop.edu.

A million questions to ask about this, of course, but I’m particularly interested for now in “manage your stress or finally give up a bad habit.” This strikes me as an attempt to take the sting out of stress and the horror out of addiction–in other words, to treat mental and emotional health issues as if they were on a par with “getting into your favorite jeans again.” (Not that weight loss isn’t a serious matter for too many Americans–which is also a bit trivialized by the phrasing “getting into your favorite jeans again”!) The sources of our vulnerability to stress and addiction are multiple, complex, deep-rooted, and while (again) CBT can be helpful here, other therapies too, psychoanalysis and psychotherapy are very important partners in the team efforts usually necessary to cope with chronic illnesses like CFS, substance abuse, and the like. Moreover I wonder who is going to be “coaching us”–what are their qualifications, and what kind of money are they making? Would love to know what other people’s first reactions/impressions are.

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