Loepp: Be Focused About Caring for Your Mental Health

Daniel J. Loepp

| 3 min read

Daniel J. Loepp is President and Chief Executive Officer of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.

Man with eyes closed
Amid this worldwide coronavirus pandemic, each of us faces unique challenges to our mental health and well-being. Some people are living alone, facing a deep sense of loneliness being quarantined apart from loved ones, church families, communities and friends. Others are suddenly navigating a chaotic world with our children at home all day, trying to balance home-schooling with parenting duties, housework and a full-time job. Others are facing the loss of their job, their business, their employees while still others are devastated by the loss of a loved one due to complications from COVID-19 -- and unable to grieve with family. The immediate and numerous difficulties we’re all facing are nothing like our world has seen, causing some to resort to an auto-pilot existence, ticking off the many tasks just to get through each day, while the anxiety and stress mount. It’s understandable. Yet we must find ways to prioritize for our mental health and well-being. May is Mental Health Awareness Month – an important reminder to find ways to care for your mental health, especially during this trying time. In a normal year, about one-fourth of all Americans experience a behavioral health condition, while over a lifetime, about fifty percent will meet that criteria. People from all backgrounds suffer from mental illness, with depression and anxiety being the most common conditions. And importantly, mental well-being and physical health are both important to overall health. Undoubtedly, the ongoing COVID-19 crisis can take a serious toll, which is why I want to share some of the programs and resources available to help our members, employees and the public cope during this unique time. For our members, we’re expanding telemedicine and waiving copays for behavioral health services. Through Blue Cross Online Visits, members have 24-7 access to U.S. board-certified doctors – and they can make an appointment to see a psychiatrist. Help is just a phone call away if you're feeling anxious or need support, which is why we’ve created a 24/7 COVID-19 Crisis Hotline (1-833-848-1764) and are reminding members about access to our 24-hour nurse’s line. And to assist those with substance use disorders, telehealth programs with behavioral health providers have been expanded for some patients to undergo detoxification and treatment at home. We’re supporting providers and primary care doctors, with funding to expand telemedicine practices. We’ve also extended prior authorization limits and enhanced delivery options for mail order medications, as well as other measures, to ensure people have easy access to medications they need. Addressing the impact COVID-19 is having on the behavioral health of our members and community is an immediate priority for Blue Cross during this unprecedented time. If you or a loved one are struggling, know that you are not alone. Help is available. I encourage you to prioritize and care for your mental health, which can also help you navigate the challenges of this crisis and ensure better overall health. And if a loved one is suffering, share these resources with them so they can get the care they need, too. We are all in this together, and we will get through it by helping each other. Photo Credit: electravk

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