By Dr. Mark Leenay
Each year millions of Americans face the reality of living with a mental illness.
That’s why May is a month to bring awareness to mental health issues.
At WellCare, we place a significant emphasis on mental health—not only in May—but throughout the year. We use a coordinated, holistic approach to care for our members based on their unique physical, behavioral, pharmaceutical and social needs because we believe this integrated approach helps our members live better, healthier lives.
Offering Innovative Behavioral Health Programs
One way we address behavioral health is by providing a variety of emotional support programs to our members. WellCare aligns members with qualified providers to manage issues ranging from depression to addiction as well as online support for sleep problems, anxiety challenges, mood disorders, or alcohol and substance abuse. In addition, we offer a 24-hour crisis line.
We’re also launching innovative programs and pilots to address one of today’s most significant health epidemics—the opioid crisis. In Illinois, WellCare’s Harmony Health Plan started a pilot in 2017 to reward providers when at-risk members are referred to substance abuse treatment, appointments are scheduled and members complete visits. Members are also rewarded with gift cards for attending appointments. The results were very positive. In 2017, there was a 17 percent increase in initiation appointments and a 48 percent increase in follow up appointments
And at the community level, in Nebraska, WellCare partnered with The Zone, an afterschool program that connects teens to mentors to build leadership skills. The Nebraska team worked with the program’s “Brave Girls” group to help them identify and find healthy ways to cope with everyday stressors at school and home.
Raising Awareness around Mental Health
In May, WellCare associates are also taking to the streets to support local initiatives across the country and help raise awareness about mental health.
In Georgia, WellCare associates along with other concerned Georgians, will gather at the capitol to support Governor Nathan Deal’s Proclamation for Children’s Mental Health Week to increase public awareness around the most pressing mental health issues in the state.
And in South Carolina, associates joined the #4mind4body challenge in coordination with Mental Health America (MHA), where they wore green ribbons and participated in the Walk for Health.
Are you addressing all areas of health including physical and mental health? Or raising awareness about this vital topic?
Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
Dr. Mark Leenay is WellCare’s senior vice president and chief medical officer