Broader access to mental health treatment
We’re addressing the urgent demand for mental health services with an expanded network of clinicians and enhanced online support.
I moved around a little bit when I was younger. I always needed to fit in. When I got into 9th and 10th grade, I made the Varsity hockey team. You're trying to fit in and you start doing what they do. I started drinking then, and as the years went on, my drinking progressed. I was coming home from work, I was starting to isolate. After a while, I wasn't talking to anybody. The shades were closed and I was drinking.
I had that moment of clarity where I needed to go and get help. So I called my sister, who was in recovery, and she got me the help that I needed. So I went to detox, and after that I went to recovery meetings and I dove into those recovery meetings. It was a chance for me to start my life over, and I saw it for that. Good things started happening for me. I went back to college. I ended up getting my bachelor's degree in human services and rehabilitation, with high honors.
If you are struggling with alcohol and drugs, please reach out. There is always somebody out there to help you.
Meeting a growing need
Our members’ in-person and virtual visits for mental health care have doubled since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and we continue to make access to mental health care a top priority. Our multifaceted approach includes new online tools, enhanced member services support, and a new mental health advocate, as well as an in-house team of mental health clinicians and case managers.
I grew up in the projects in Jamaica Plain. How did I feel growing up? I felt insecure. I didn't feel pretty at all. I felt out of place and I never felt I was smart. Using drugs became very easy for me, unfortunately, and it became my goal at that time in life. When I look at how I came to start using drugs, I can go back to when I was younger in some of those feelings of depression and that inner turmoil. Towards the end of my drug use, I remember saying to myself, there has to be a different way. There needs to be a better life.
So I went to rehab. I saw a therapist, talking. I saw a psychiatrist for medication for my depression and anxiety. I learned that it's okay for me to talk. I learned that medication is okay. Slowly I began to feel happy. That wasn't overnight and there are some days that I don't feel good, but that was my start of trying to be better and knowing that I could be better. I know someone out there has gone through something of what I've been through. I know they felt something of how I felt, and I know that they've been having moments of hopelessness and helplessness, and I just want them to know, you are not weak for going through feelings of depression and anxiety for seeking help. You're not crazy. You're reaching out, and the bravest thing that you can do is reach out.
In 2022, we added to our network new primary mental health provider groups to make it easier for members to find a therapist or psychiatrist. We also added groups that specialize in treating specific conditions such as obsessive-compulsive disorder and substance use disorder. Overall, nearly 18,000 mental health clinicians are available to our members in Massachusetts, up 46% from five years ago, and a broad range of clinicians also are available nationally via the Blue Cross Blue Shield network. We are committed to ensuring that every member has access to the care they need.
“I want people who have gone through trauma, abuse, dependency to know
that it’s okay to talk about it so they can let it go and get on to the next part of their life.”
- Blue Cross member and employee Cathy Guild
New options for employers
to make care more affordable
Employers can now offer their employees mental health benefit options with $0 copays. For example, the Health Benefits Trust of the Massachusetts Interlocal Insurance Association, which includes 400 cities, towns and other public entities, picks up their employees’ copays for initial therapy visits. Other cost-saving options include waiving member copays for certain mental health medications and cash reimbursement for stress reduction and relaxation programs.