BCBS companies can support your mental health at home

Published May 5, 2020

Broadening access to mental health care. For the Health of America.SM

As government officials, healthcare workers and thought leaders race to stop the spread of the coronavirus and care for those affected, Blue Cross and Blue Shield (BCBS) companies are at work to support the communities they serve.

In addition to covering COVID-19 costs, expanding access to care, feeding families and more, BCBS companies are also finding ways to meet the mental and behavioral health needs while many Americans are stuck at home. These efforts support not only those who were receiving such care in person, prior to the pandemic, but also those who are suffering depression, anxiety or other problems as a result of physical isolation, worry for loved ones and economic uncertainty.

Care solutions

  •  Nearly 1 in 3 teens will experience anxiety disorder, according to the National Institutes of Health. To support these adolescents—especially during the uncertain times they and their families may be facing—Blue Shield of California (BS CA) partnered with, the largest not-for-profit platform exclusively supporting young people and social change. Together, they created "New State of Mind," a digital campaign to build the first crowdsourced mental health resource. The campaign, launched in April, is collecting tips from teens across the country on how to combat stress and anxiety, especially as they relate to COVID-19. The collected resource will then be shared nationwide. This is the latest in BS CA's BlueSky initiative to support adolescent mental health.
  • Florida Blue    is no stranger to supporting its state through tough times. In the aftermath of destructive hurricanes, they learned that providing immediate, community-wide access to free behavioral health support is one of the best ways to help people cope and heal. With this lesson in mind, the company acted quick to bring their entire state free, 24/7 access to trained behavioral health counselors in early March, before the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic. This decision ensures that all Floridians—even the uninsured and under-insured—can get the care they need.
  • Serving Pennsylvania, Delaware and West Virginia, Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield (Highmark BCBS) covers many members who remain under statewide stay-at-home orders. For those with opioid use disorder who rely on medication-assisted treatment (MAT), these orders could represent a disruption in treatment. That's because MAT traditionally relies on a physician to administer a specific drug dosage on a regular basis, requiring frequent trips to a healthcare facility. To serve its members who need this type of care amid the COVID-19 crisis, Highmark BCBS is making available a first-of-its-kind telemedicine program that provides MAT virtually. Each patient is given a team that includes a physician, therapist, case manager, care manager and a wellness coach to ensure the best possible outcomes and holistic recovery.
  • Meditation has been clinically proven to reduce stress and anxiety. In the midst of a global health crisis and, for many, unprecedented isolation, it can be an effective way to cope with difficult thoughts and feelings. In Philadelphia, Independence Blue Cross is offering its members free, 60-day access to Stop, Breathe & Think. This app, developed for kids, teen and young adults but usable by anyone, teaches mindfulness and meditation with daily check-ins, guided practice and activities.

Expert advice

  • To support its members and community in dealing with stress, mental health concerns and well-being in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, Blue Shield of California (BS CA) took to social media with a Facebook Live event on April 27. Hosted by BS CA's Jeff Blake, senior manager of corporate communications, the event hosted Ruth White, Ph.D. White is a social worker and professor at the University of Southern California's Dworak-Peck School of Social Work. During the live session, White took viewer-submitted questions and covered topics like why we are experiencing more stress at this time, how it can affect our physical health and tactics to maintain good mental health.
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts (BCBS MA) is creating quick, shareable tips for maintaining good mental health amid COVID-19 with a Facebook video series featuring Ken Duckworth, M.D., BCBS MA's senior medical director. In the first video of the series, Duckworth gives advice for managing anxiety.The company also hosted a webinar in April to explain members' mental health coverage and resources during this crisis and answer viewer-submitted questions. The webinar featured Duckworth and Greg Harris, M.D., M.P.H., BCBS MA's associate medical director of behavioral health.
  • To help meet the needs of their members during this difficult time, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan (BCBS MI) is using Blue Cross® Virtual Well-Being, a platform that provides live, weekly webinars. Each week, users are invited to learn in-depth techniques for managing well-being. Since the coronavirus outbreak escalated in the U.S., these weekly webinars have been tailored to help users through this unprecedented crisis. Topics include journaling, spending time in nature, resiliency training and more. The platform also offers a solution for BCBS MI's employer customers who want to share these resources with their employee population.
  • In the wake of COVID-19, Highmark BCBS launched an iHeart Radio podcast, "Confronting COVID-19." Led by experts in their respective fields, each episode covers a topic that listeners may be confronted with during the pandemic, from signs and symptoms to mental well-being. Behavioral health-focused episodes include "Why Mindfulness Matters," "Making Time for Self-Care," and "Communicating with Children."
  • Regence Blue Cross and Blue Shield (Regence) companies are creating regular emotional and behavioral health blogs to support their members' and communities' well-being. Topics include recovering from addiction, staying connected while social distancing, talking to your kids about COVID-19 and more. Experts on the Regence team also provide advice and thought leadership in blogs, such as Chief Medical Officer Cheryl Pegus and Jim Polo, Regence BlueShield’s Behavioral Health Medical Director.

The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association is a national federation of 36 independent, community-based and locally operated Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies that collectively provide health care coverage for one in three Americans.

The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association is an association of 35 independent, locally operated Blue Cross and/or Blue Shield companies.