There is a negative stigma surrounding mental health, resulting in people not seeking help for their mental health needs. When people are suffering from a mental health condition such as anxiety or depression, those suffering often have self-blame for their functional decline, resulting in thinking they don't need help and just have to deal with it.
Magda VanWingen, LMSW, care manager at Priority Health, discusses the stigma surrounding mental health, warning signs to watch out for, and how people can seek help.
Depression, anxiety, and addiction are medical diseases that may require medical intervention to treat symptoms when symptoms do not resolve on their own after an episode of depression. Mental illness and suicide can affect anyone and it's important to be aware of the warning signs and engage in conversations to raise awareness, spread hope, and share information on this important topic.
Warning signs for those at risk of suicide are:
- Feelings of hopelessness, or having no reason to live
- Threatening to or talking about wanting to die or kill oneself
- Loss of interest in activities or decline in work/school performance
- Withdrawal from friends and family, isolating or feeling isolated
- Change in eating or sleeping habits
- Drug and/or alcohol use
- Acting anxious or agitated, behaving recklessly
- Talking about feeling unbearable pain
- Exhibiting extreme mood swings or showing rage
- Difficulty concentrating, completing daily tasks, or making decisions
- Talking about feeling trapped or a burden to others
- Looking for access to firearms, pills, or other lethal means
If you know someone well enough to notice a change in behavior or functioning you can help, regardless of how you know the person, it never hurts to reach out and help.
If you recognize someone displaying some of the above warning signs, you may want to act. The National Institute of Mental Health identifies five steps for helping someone in emotional pain:
- Ask them if they are considering suicide; research has shown discussing suicide does not increase a person’s risk of attempting it.
- Help keep the individual safe by limiting their access to lethal items and places.
- Listen carefully to the person and acknowledge how they are feeling.
- Help the person stay connected by saving the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline’s (1-800-273-8255) and the Crisis Text Line’s number (741741) to your phone and theirs so it’s available if needed. You may also help connect the person with a mental health professional for additional support.
- Stay in touch with the individual after the crisis or after they are discharged; studies have shown this can decrease the person’s risk of dying by suicide.
If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, receive immediate help by:
- Calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
- Texting the Crisis Text Line: 741741
Priority Health members have access to these resources for mental wellness as well:
- 24/7 Priority Health Support Line: 800.673.8043
- Members experiencing emotional distress or concerns with substance use can call the Priority Health 24/7 support line, where behavioral health experts will work with callers to help them navigate the behavioral health system which includes mental health and substance use services. Depending on the situation, members may be connected with a licensed master’s level clinician on our Emergency Triage team to further assess the caller's needs and assist with care coordination.
- myStrength tool: Self-care and coping skills are critical to your mental health and wellbeing. To empower members, Priority Health has partnered with a digital health specialist to offer free access to mental wellness resources specifically focused on the COVID-19 pandemic. Members can sign up for a free myStrength account that includes interactive activities, coping tools, and other resources at bh.mystrength.com/priority-health.
- Care Management: Priority Health offers telephonic care management to members that need additional assistance and support with accessing mental health services and care coordination with providers. This support is provided by licensed master’s level social workers who are skilled in supporting members with a variety of behavioral health needs. This support is offered for free to Priority Health members.
- Behavior health virtual care: Behavioral Health virtual care is also available with the same copay as an office visit, allowing members to receive treatment from the comfort and safety of their own home. We’re proud to partner with Spectrum Health to offer members behavioral health virtual care through the Spectrum Health Now app to treat anxiety, depression, grief, stress, and sadness in a more convenient way.
Spectrum Health primary care and specialist have embedded behavioral health services to provide patients with a coordinated team of providers who work together to deliver the most comprehensive treatment.
Learn more about these resources and services by visiting priorityhealth.com.
Medical Moment is sponsored by Spectrum Health.