Two HRSA Grants Let Pharmacy Chair Bring Well-being to Forefront

Seena Haines works to raise awareness of mental health in the workplace

OXFORD, Miss. – Seena Haines’ wellness journey has come full circle.

Her own personal struggles as an adolescent with obesity, along with the impact of chronic disease in her family, set her passion toward personal well-being and a calling to help others.

“I want to empower patients to take an active role in their health and focus on what matters most to them,” said Haines, chair and professor of pharmacy practice at the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy. “I have always been passionate about lifestyle medicine and its importance in reducing disease severity. And the powerful role in disease prevention.

Seena Haines

“I learned how obesity adversely impacts our health, not just our physical health but also how it interplays with our mental health, self-acceptance and self-compassion.”

With her expertise, Haines is a part of two U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration Grants with the UM Medical Center and American Society of Health-System Pharmacists that focus on well-being and resilience.

As part of the UMMC team awarded a $3 million grant, Haines serves as the content development director, working to create a “Take 5” well-being curriculum.

These five-minute modules will cover a wide array of topics and strategies supported by evidence but kept concise, in consideration of time challenges faced by employees among the medical campus’ seven schools. They are also aimed at enhancing strategic priorities outlined in the UMMC Office of Well-being’s grant.

Haines was invited as a faculty member to be involved with the creation of the ASHP Well-being Certificate Program. She is part of the faculty research team as an implementation coach helping lead the society’s Well-being Ambassador Program.

The organization is making the Well-being Certificate Program available to 5,000 pharmacists and technicians. In her role as a well-being ambassador, Haines will expand the content from the certificate course to include guiding institutional quality improvement projects and coaching.

“Seena is the perfect fit for these grants and will do an amazing job in her roles,” said Donna Strum, dean of the pharmacy school. “For Seena to share her expertise and enthusiasm toward these important topics will be beneficial not only for our school, medical center and profession, but for so many others who want to improve their lives in these areas.”

Haines began her career as a dietitian. It wasn’t until her senior research project as an undergraduate at Florida International University, when she observed a pharmacist’s involvement with parenteral and enteral nutrition, that she turned her interests to pharmacy.

She then completed her Doctor of Pharmacy degree and ambulatory care residency at Nova Southeastern University.

“I knew early on that I wanted to practice in an outpatient setting, helping patients with chronic disease, where I could combine my education and training to best serve their needs with an eye towards prevention and wellness,” Haines said.

The learning didn’t stop there. Haines recently became a board-certified health and wellness coach and is a credentialed mindfulness and meditation teacher.

Her pursuit in gaining those skills came at a much-needed time, as COVID-19 put pressure on the health care workforce.

“Burnout and mental health disorders were already escalating prior to the pandemic and have worsened over time with the continued impact felt by front-line workers, and really in all sectors and industries,” Haines said. “Many are experiencing disruptions of sleep, appetite, work, fitness and family life.

“Days waking in a fog and overwhelmed. Our resilience skills and our appraisal of setbacks might be the biggest challenge that we are all facing right now.”

Taking on those difficult thoughts and situations can be tough.

“Our thoughts are so powerful,” Haines said. “Reframing some of the thoughts a person might perceive as negative could have positive benefits and help shape who we are for the better.”