BATON ROUGE, La. – March is National Social Worker Month, and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana’s care team are sharing tips for how you can be STRONGER THAN stress.
It’s always important to be aware of common concerns like depression, stress and anxiety, but with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, war in Ukraine and other current events, it’s more important than ever. In fact, many Louisianians may be experiencing negative changes in their mental and emotional health.
“We all feel stressed from time to time. But, you need to be careful about not being too stressed or overwhelmed,” said Licensed Clinical Social Worker Avis Brown, a Blue Cross behavioral health specialist. “Be aware of how you feel and remember to ask for help if you need it. If you are struggling to do your regular activities, talk to your doctor and ask about treatment recommendations.”
Brown recommends checking in at every checkup to let your health care provider know about your overall well-being and how you’re handling any stress or life transitions. It’s especially important to tell your provider if you are having any of these changes:
• Ongoing feelings of sadness, guilt or irritability that are hard to control
• Trouble concentrating, making decisions or remembering details
• Physical symptoms like aches and pains, headaches, digestive issues that don’t have an obvious cause like having a stomach virus
• Lack of energy, being tired more often or moving slower
• Being less interested in things you used to enjoy
• Changes in sleep or eating patterns
“Even if you are not feeling stressed, burned out or overwhelmed, it is still important to regularly check in on your mental health and take steps to be STRONGER THAN ever, Brown said. “Make sure you are including things like working out regularly, doing a creative activity like painting or journaling, or simply unplugging to focus on family time to boost your mental health.”
Mental Health Resources
Blue Cross and other insurers provide services to help members not only take care of their physical health, but also their mental health. Many of these services are free or low cost to members.
Be Stronger Than Ever
Blue Cross has an in-house clinical team, which includes nurses, dietitians, pharmacists and social workers. The care team supports members who are dealing with long-term health needs, serious illnesses or acute injuries to help them be STRONGER THAN any disease or diagnosis. They offer health coaching, personalized education and assistance in setting and reaching wellness goals.
Blue Cross social workers and other health coaches work with members to offer support and encouragement, find health care providers in their network or develop skills to cope with a diagnosis. They also connect members with local support groups and community resources to assist them.
To learn more about Care Management programs and services or to sign up for health coaching, visit www.bcbsla.com/Stronger. There is no cost for eligible members to work with a health coach.
Behavioral Health Online Appointments
You 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 feeling stress, anxiety or depression.
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. BlueCare is available in all 50 states and works on any device with internet and a camera, like a smartphone, laptop, tablet or computer.
You can 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.
In addition to BlueCare, other Blue Cross network behavioral health providers do online appointments. If you have a relationship with a behavioral health provider, ask if he/she offers telehealth visits.
“Motivated Mindset” Facebook Live Series
To help viewers be Stronger Than Ever and stay on top of their mental health, Blue Cross hosts Motivated Mindset, a Facebook Live series about stress, mindfulness and other topics. In these broadcasts, Brown shares tips for how you can protect your mental and emotional health. You can watch past broadcasts by visiting Blue Cross and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana’s Facebook page and YouTube channel.
One of the critical services social workers provide is helping connect people to resources. Often, social and economic challenges can lead to poor mental health. Blue Cross has a free search tool to connect you with a variety of social support services. The free search tool helps people find assistance for needs such as meal delivery, transportation, low-cost medications, counseling services or health education. Most of the services listed are low or no cost. You can search for services locally, or anywhere around the country. Learn more by visiting www.bcbsla.com/programs.
$0 Drug Copay Program
To Help Louisianians take their medicines as their doctors prescribe and not miss doses, Blue Cross has a $0 Drug Copay program. The program offers some drugs for chronic conditions, including depression, for $0. Blue Cross knows that cost can be a barrier when it comes to patients taking the medicine properly. Studies have shown that when the program takes away out-of-pocket costs barriers, there are improved health outcomes for members. Go to www.bcbsla.com/covereddrugs for a list of drugs in the program.
Visit the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana YouTube channel to see short videos with the clinical team and others discussing health topics. Subscribe to know when new videos are added. You can also connect with Blue Cross on social media @BCBSLA for regular updates.
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.