Studies show that nearly half (46%) of adults in the United States will experience a mental illness in their lifetime. Yet, only 41% of those who had a mental disorder in the past year received the professional care they needed. Whether someone is experiencing depression, addiction, or living with an anxiety disorder, accessing mental health services is critical for managing their condition.
When it comes to our country’s mental health crisis, Moda Health’s goal is to increase the number of members who utilize their benefits when they need them. At the forefront of dealing with this crisis is Moda’s Healthcare Services department, which is comprised of three teams specializing in behavioral health, population health and care coordination.
“Whatever it is, we’re here to help each member discover what their stress resilience strengths are going to be, and what’s going to work for them,” said Cat Schulz, health coach and licensed mental health therapist at Moda Health. She works with members in Moda’s Depression Care program.
The telephonic Health Coaching program helps members better understand their condition and what treatments are best for them. The program includes six sessions over a six-month period per insurance year. During these telephone sessions, health coaches listen to the member’s concerns and educates them about their benefits and resources they need to manage their condition.
“Talking to members by phone is very powerful and effective,” she said. “It may be a call on their way to work or when they are taking a break from their stressful job. We reach them wherever they are in their life, throughout their day. It’s important to be accessible whenever it’s convenient for them.”
Making mental health more available
Members who are enrolled in health coaching are often dealing with all types of mental health conditions, including depression, anxiety or chronic stress, addiction, loss, PTSD, weight loss, or coping with a new normal in their health status like diabetes or a heart condition. Health coaches specialize in related areas such as nutrition, diabetes and stress management, and support members in finding the right care at the right time.
“So many conditions are connected to mental health and stress,” she said. “I think its important members know that Moda Health makes mental health services more available so they can utilize the services they need. If someone is open to seeing a therapist, we help them by searching for nearby providers who are in their network. Then, we may work with the Behavioral Health team to coordinate with a therapist, in-patient or addiction treatment.”
“Mental health therapists work with members to understand the negative aspects of their feelings, thoughts, behaviors and life conditions,” she said. “This can help lead to greater self-acceptance and life-affirming ways of thinking, feeling, seeking support, and taking healthy action to make positive life changes. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, an evidence-based theory, is frequently used by therapists to help a member challenge their default thought patterns that lead to negative behaviors and the feeling of being stuck.”
Tips for stress resilience
While at Moda Health, Cat has worked with hundreds of members to help them manage their mental health conditions. Here are a few tips she would like to share with others to help create stress resilience:
- Meet yourself exactly where you are at. When Cat talks to members, she likes to have them start exactly where they are. Being honest with yourself about what’s realistic and what’s sustainable is essential for building stress resilience.
- Develop compassion for yourself. Understanding and having compassion for who you are and where you are at can help reduce the level of additional stress you put on yourself. Accepting who you are can transform negative thoughts about your place in life or condition that you may get from the world or your own internal negative conditioning. Compassion can lead to greater self-acceptance and more positive behaviors.
- The 5 pillars of health: Tending to the following pillars can help strengthen resilience:
a. Quality sleep/rest each day
b. Proper nutrition
c. Physical activity
d. A sense of purpose
e. Connection with yourself, your family or community
- Focus on smaller, sustainable steps toward realistic change. Taking small sustainable steps toward change involves evaluating how you think and feel about your life, and turning toward action instead of dwelling on the negative. Taking action will increase the possibility of feeling better about your current life circumstance.
- Create time for play and laughter. Honor yourself by doing the things you love. Also, having a sense of humor creates positive experiences that you can build on to reduce stress in your life.
Finding her purpose
Helping people make positive changes in their lives is the reason Cat became a mental health therapist. She’s grateful for others who have allowed her to be a witness to their story and seeing the changes they’ve made in their lives.
“As a mental health therapist, it’s hugely satisfying to hear all the stories from clients and members that they may or may not have told anyone else,” she said. “Hearing those stories, and validating and normalizing them, that’s why I do my job. That’s why I chose to become a mental health therapist.”