BATON ROUGE, La. – As Louisianians recover from Hurricane Ida, many are feeling upset or overwhelmed. This is on top of record numbers of people reporting anxiety, stress and depression since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana reminds everyone that it’s important to check in on how you’re feeling, especially during times of crisis. September is National Suicide Prevention & Awareness Month, and the insurer is sharing behavioral health resources to encourage asking for help if you need it.
“Even before Hurricane Ida, our state was in a fourth surge of COVID-19, a new school year was starting, and many Louisianians were still rebuilding from last year’s devastating hurricane season, including Hurricane Laura,” said Dr. Deirdre Barfield, Blue Cross vice president of Medical Management and senior medical director. “Understandably, people are feeling very anxious about their health, their families and what will happen. It’s important to take time to check on your overall well-being and find strategies that help you stay on top of stress.”
Dr. Barfield shared the example of airplanes advising passengers to put their own oxygen masks on before assisting anyone else to show why self-care is important. “You can’t pour from an empty glass,” Dr. Barfield said. “It’s important to always make time to relax, unplug and focus on how you’re feeling to identify problem areas and decide how you’ll address them. That’s even more important in times like these, when crises beyond our control affect our daily life.”
The good news is that people are often more resilient in a crisis than they think they are, and there are many ways to ask for help, Dr. Barfield said.
“If you’re struggling with daily tasks or can’t be present to your family and loved ones because you’re so overwhelmed by bad feelings, let your healthcare provider know,” Dr. Barfield added. “Just like you’d tell your provider if you felt physical pain, you should mention how you’re feeling mentally. Your provider is there to help you and can recommend treatment options, suggest resources or prescribe medication if needed.”
If you or someone you know is showing warning signs of suicide, including talking of being a burden to others or wanting to die, drinking or using drugs, behaving recklessly, giving away possessions or showing a lack of interest in the future, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline toll free at 1-800-273-8255. The Louisiana Department of Health also has crisis behavioral health resources available.
Blue Cross has several programs and services to help members get help for their mental health needs.
Be STRONGER THAN EVER with Blue Cross’ Care Team
Blue Cross has an in-house care team of nurses, dietitians, pharmacists and social workers who support members dealing with long-term health needs, serious illnesses or acute injuries. They offer health coaching, personalized education and support to help members be STRONGER THAN any situation or diagnosis. Members do not pay anything to work with a health coach.
Blue Cross health coaches work with members to find social service community organizations and resources close to them, connect with behavioral health providers in their network or build up skills to cope with difficult health or life situations.
To learn more about Care Management programs and services or to sign up for health coaching, visit www.bcbsla.com/Stronger.
Behavioral Health Providers Available on BlueCare
Blue Cross members can use BlueCare, Blue Cross’ telehealth platform, to have online visits with behavioral health providers. BlueCare behavioral health appointments can be a good service if you are looking for ways of getting care from the comfort and privacy of your home, or if you do not live close to a behavioral health provider. BlueCare is available in all 50 states and works on any device with internet and a camera, like a smartphone, laptop, tablet or computer.
Log into BlueCare to schedule appointments with available psychology or psychiatry providers who are trained and certified in telehealth care. Behavioral health providers available through BlueCare can help with anxiety, depression, stress, grief, substance abuse, coping with life transitions, couples counseling and more. You can also use BlueCare 24/7 to treat routine, non-emergency medical conditions like colds, bladder infections, allergies, pink eye, mild stomach bugs or rashes.
Create a BlueCare account at www.BlueCareLA.com or with the BlueCare (one word) mobile app for Apple and Android devices. Then, simply log in and have a medical visit anytime or schedule a behavioral health appointment.
Many healthcare providers and insurers expanded online visits during the COVID-19 pandemic, so you should check what is covered in network for your health plan. If you have a behavioral health provider you go to regularly, ask if telehealth visits are an option.
Visit the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana YouTube channel to see short videos COVID-19 and other health topics. Subscribe to know when new videos are added. You can connect with Blue Cross on social media for regular updates. Blue Cross posts often on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and now, TikTok.
For information on what Blue Cross is doing in response to COVID-19, visit www.bcbsla.com/covid19.
About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is committed to our mission to improve the health and lives of Louisianians. Founded in New Orleans in 1934, we are a tax-paying nonprofit health insurer with offices in every major region to serve our customers. We have been recognized for the past three years as an honoree of The Civic 50, named by Points of Light as one of the 50 most community-minded companies in the United States.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. We are a private mutual company, owned by our policyholders, with an independent Louisiana Board of Directors and no shareholders. We invite all Louisianians to visit our website at www.bcbsla.com or ta
lk to us on social media.