BATON ROUGE, La – May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana encourages everyone to regularly check in on your well-being and ask for help if you need it. Since 2020, you have even more options to get care with telehealth.
“One positive outcome of the COVID-19 pandemic is that we and other insurers widely expanded telehealth services and the number of in-network providers who can treat patients this way,” said Dr. Jeremy Wigginton, Blue Cross medical director. “Mental health has been a traditionally underserved area in Louisiana, so increasing access to providers through telehealth gives more people the opportunity to seek care. And, many patients may be more comfortable asking for help if they can do so from the privacy of home rather than going to an office for an appointment.”
Blue Cross claims data from the most recent reporting period show that although telehealth use has dropped from an April 2020 peak as health care facilities reopened and people resumed in-person care, it has remained steady over the past two years, particularly for mental health treatment. These types of visits accounted for more than half of all Blue Cross telehealth claims in this period.
“The ongoing use of online appointments for mental health treatment shows telehealth is meeting a very real need,” Dr. Wigginton said. “It’s important for everyone to be aware they have this option, particularly if you live in areas where there are not a lot of providers within easy traveling distance or if you have transportation challenges. With telehealth, you can get care from anywhere, on any device with internet and a camera.”
Blue Cross members can use BlueCare, the insurer’s signature telehealth platform, to have online appointments with psychology or psychiatry providers who are trained and certified in telehealth care. BlueCare providers can help with anxiety, depression, stress, grief, substance abuse, coping with life transitions, couples counseling and more.
“We were able to speed up adding mental health services to BlueCare in response to pandemic shutdowns, and those services continue today,” Dr. Wigginton said. “That’s important because in addition to being an unprecedented public health crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic has negatively affected mental health, with record numbers of people reporting anxiety, stress and depression. We wanted to make sure our members can have mental health appointments when they need them.”
BlueCare is available in all 50 states and works on a smartphone, laptop, tablet or computer. 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 schedule a behavioral health appointment.
BlueCare is also an option for 24/7 medical care to treat routine illnesses like allergies, cold or flu symptoms, pink eye, bladder infections or mild stomach viruses. Doctors can write or refill prescriptions to treat most conditions over BlueCare. When you log in for an appointment, BlueCare will display information about available providers who can treat you, including which languages they speak.
Learn more about BlueCare in this video (3:11).
In addition to BlueCare, Blue Cross has network mental health providers who treat patients through telehealth. Ask your provider about options or check the online directory to find an in-network provider near you.
Mental Health Resources
Blue Cross has programs and services to help members stay well and get help for their mental health needs.
• Health Coaching: Blue Cross has an in-house care team including nurses, social workers and dietitians who support members dealing with long-term health needs, serious illnesses or acute injuries. 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 be resilient in difficult situations. To learn more about Care Management programs and services or to sign up for health coaching, visit www.bcbsla.com/Stronger. Members do not pay anything to work with a health coach.
• Facebook Live Broadcasts: During May, Blue Cross will host two Facebook Live educational events on mental health awareness, finding healthy ways to deal with stress and avoiding social isolation.
#CheckIn During Mental Health Awareness Month: Thursday, May 19 at noon with Dr. Wigginton and Social Worker Avis Brown
Medicare Made Easy: Mental Health Awareness: Thursday, May 26 at noon with Senior Medical Director Dr. Deirdre Barfield and Medicare Benefit Specialist Ann Booth.
Both events will be broadcast from Blue Cross’ Facebook page and Zoom. You can RSVP and share these events from your personal social media to invite friends and family. Recordings of each broadcast will be posted after the event.
On June 14, Blue Cross will continue raising awareness of mental health with the broadcast “Conversando Francamente,” a Spanish educational event on this topic. See Blue Cross’ Facebook page for more information on this event.
Follow Blue Cross on social media @BCBSLA throughout May to see original graphic designs, videos and other messages raising awareness of mental health and sharing resources for treatment and support. Download, share or post these messages on your personal social media with the hashtag #CheckIn and inspire your loved ones to consider their mental health and reach out if they need help. Blue Cross posts regularly on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and TikTok.
Visit the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana YouTube channel to see short videos on mental health and other wellness topics. Subscribe to know when new videos are added.
“Let’s Ride” Promotion with Blue Bikes
Blue Cross has partnered with Blue Krewe, the nonprofit operator of Blue Bikes in New Orleans, to sponsor a free ride promotion during May. The promotion aims to raise awareness of mental health and give opportunities for healthy exercise, which can lower feelings of anxiety and depression.
Riders can use the code LetsRide to get one free, 30-minute Blue Bikes ride. The ride can be a chance to get some physical activity, gather with friends or have transportation to health care appointments. Each individual rider can only use this code one time through Tuesday, May 31. The Blue Bikes free ride codes are only valid for trips within the bikeshare program’s service area.
Show us how you used the LetsRide code by posting photos on your personal social media, tagging Blue Bikes (@BlueBikesNOLA) and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana (@BCBSLA), using the hashtags #CheckIn and #LetsRide. Visit BlueBikesNOLA.com for more information.
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 talk to us on social media.