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Don't let these 3 worries keep you from seeking behavioral health care

As Americans become more aware of the signs, symptoms and impact of behavioral health conditions, many are realizing that they may need assistance to deal with things like chronic stress, depression or substance use. Unfortunately, as a psychiatrist, I frequently hear stories about people who could benefit from treatment, but for whatever reason, are hesitant to seek help. Below are three common worries that keep people from getting treatment – and why no one should let those fears keep them from living their healthiest lives.

Worry #1: “I don’t want to ‘medicate my problems away.”

Behavioral health treatment looks different for every individual. And research shows that long term, therapy alone may be just as effective as medications for treating common conditions like depression.  Physicians rarely prescribe medications without suggesting additional treatment options. Working with your doctor, you can find the treatment that works best for you – including different types of therapy and medications, alone or in combination.

If you have specific concerns about medication or treatment approaches, be sure to raise them with your doctor. Patients have the right to ask questions about their care plans. Here are a few you can ask your primary care physician or specialists when discussing medication:

  • Is therapy a good option for me?
  • What are the side effects of this medication?
  • Are there alternative options to achieve the same results?

Advocating for yourself in this way can help ensure treatment is tailored to suit your specific needs.

Worry #2: “I don’t have time to visit a therapist’s office every week.”

We all lead busy lives, and trying to find time for additional appointments can seem daunting. Unfortunately, there are no quick fixes or shortcuts to behavioral health treatment. However, getting help doesn’t have to be inconvenient. Today’s behavioral health care doesn’t always match the stereotypical depiction of a clipboard-wielding therapist listening to a patient lounging on a chaise.

Many providers now offer flexible scheduling options, and some Blue Cross NC members can access therapy or psychiatric medication management through their telehealth benefits. Additionally, many employers are recognizing behavioral health is a key component of overall health and are providing increased flexibility and mental health time off specifically to keep their employees healthy and productive. According to a 2019 report from the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans, 88% of organizations now offer Employee Assistance Programs, and 79% offer mental health coverage as an insurance benefit (PDF). Some employers even offer services like stress management courses and onsite counseling.

Taking advantage of these benefits is a good first step toward improving your health. And don’t forget, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Quickly addressing issues and being proactive about your behavioral health can help prevent or lessen issues down the line that could cause more disruption in your day-to-day life.

Worry #3: “Finding care is too difficult.”

At Blue Cross NC, we believe high-quality behavioral health services should be available to every North Carolinian. That’s why we partner with companies like Quartet Health to ensure patients find the right treatment plan to fit their individual needs. Through the Quartet platform, primary care doctors can easily refer patients to behavioral health specialists and providers can share data and coordinate care to best improve patients’ total health.

To find a behavioral health provider near you, use our Find Care tool to browse in-network psychologists, psychiatrists, therapists, social workers and substance use counselors. Members can also use Health Line Blue, our 24/7 nurse line, to receive advice on finding behavioral health services.

Behavioral health conditions can have a major impact on your overall health. Don’t let fear or anxiety keep you from getting the help you need.

If you are in immediate crisis, call the National Suicide Hotline at 800-273-8255 or text “NAMI” to 741741.

authors photo
Kate Hobbs Knutson, MD, MPH
Kate Hobbs Knutson, MD, MPH

Dr. Kate Hobbs Knutson was the chief of behavioral health at Blue Cross NC from 2018 to 2020.

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