Patient talking to a therapist.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Behavioral Health Professionals Create Free Virtual Group Therapy Programs to Support Members’ Mental Health Needs During the COVID-19 Pandemic

DETROIT, May 11, 2020 – Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Blue Care Network are launching new telehealth programs with behavioral health providers, so Blue members who are interested in participating in group sessions to discuss the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on their mental health can share their experiences with others under the guidance of a trained therapist.  The programs are available for free to members with Blue Cross and Blue Care Network behavioral health coverage through June 30.

“The pandemic has disrupted lives and caused stress – both from a medical and financial perspective – for our members in Michigan,” said Dr. William Beecroft, medical director for Behavioral Health at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.  “People are experiencing loneliness, isolation, financial burden, family stress, grief and fear due to the pandemic.”  Group therapy can be a very beneficial form of treatment.  It connects people with others going through similar situations, which can help people relate, receive support and reinforce the feeling that they’re not alone in their struggle.  Offering opportunities for our members to receive treatment from home, using telehealth technology, will offer much needed comfort to many in a time of great uncertainty.”

In collaboration with providers, Blue Cross is using evidence-based research to offer existing services in a virtual format to minimize the risk of exposure to COVID-19 for those members interested in group therapy. These patients would traditionally participate in programs that require regular office visits.

Group therapy for mental health issues related to COVID-19 varies by provider but could include treatment which serves the need for individuals to identify with each other and process experiences, enabling them to continue their respective lifestyles with hope and reduced stress. Groups may use a blend of psychoeducation, cognitive therapy and CBT-based meditation to achieve these outcomes.

Blue Cross and Blue Care Network members seeking mental health support related to the pandemic can find providers participating in telehealth programs by calling the Blue Cross or Blue Care Network Behavioral Health Services phone number on the back of their member I.D. card. The call center clinical team will direct members with information and referrals.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Blue Care Network have enacted several measures to increase the safety and convenience of accessing health care for all members during the pandemic. These include free COVID-19 diagnostic lab testing and treatment when consistent with CDC guidelines, offering telehealth medical and behavioral health visits for common services at no cost through June 30 for members with existing benefits, a free 24-hour nurse line and waived refill limits for 30-day and 90-day prescription maintenance medications.

More information on the company’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic is available on the company’s blog – www.mibluesperspectives.comand website – www.bcbsm.com/coronavirus.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, a nonprofit mutual insurance company, is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. BCBSM provides health benefits to more than 4.7 million members residing in Michigan in addition to employees of Michigan-headquartered companies residing outside the state. The company has been committed to delivering affordable health care products through a broad variety of plans for businesses, individuals and seniors for 80 years. Beyond health care coverage, BCBSM supports impactful community initiatives and provides leadership in improving health care. For more information, visit bcbsm.com and MiBluesPerspectives.com.