Ask the Expert: A Conversation About Behavioral Health with Amanda Chase, MA, NBC-HWC, LPC

With the uncertainty around the coronavirus pandemic, the increasing calls for social justice, and the turbulent political climate, 2020 has caused significant amounts of stress for many Americans. According to Stress in America 2020: A National Mental Health Crisis, conducted by The Harris Poll, three in five adults say the number of issues America faces is overwhelming to them. With these new sources of stress, many individuals are experiencing challenges for the first time and may not have the necessary tools or strategies to cope, leading them to seek help from behavioral and mental health services. Premise Health has seen a 94% increase in new member behavioral health visits since the beginning of 2020.

We sat down with Amanda Chase, MA, NBC-HWC, LPC – Premise’s resident behavioral health expert – to learn more about how short-term counseling can help those dealing with stress and what employers can do to support struggling employees.

What are the common behavioral health issues Premise is seeing in the workplace today?

Our members utilize behavioral health counseling services for many different reasons, but in the current state, we have seen a sharp increase in overall visits – 164% – compared to last year. Many of these visits have been fueled by an increase in anxiety and stress, but others are driven by depression, trauma, or wellness-related factors such as coping with a challenging diagnosis.

How can behavioral health counseling help members overcome those challenges?

Whether these are struggles that members have been dealing with for many years or if they’re new due to the increased disruption in their everyday lives, behavioral health counseling can help members understand why they are suffering and teach them coping strategies and skills they can utilize when needed.

What can employers do to support struggling employees?

There are many things employers can do for those that are struggling, but first and foremost employers need to show compassion and understanding. Once they understand what an employee is going through, the employer can then communicate that they care and let the employee know they are supported.

As far as what employers can offer, providing access to an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) should be the minimum. Other considerations include adequate mental health coverage, a strong work-life balance strategy, and options for personal support.

Employers also play a large role in decreasing the stigma of mental health in the workplace. If employers want to make the workplace a safe place for everyone, they should promote discussion of mental health at work and communicate that reaching out for help is okay.

For those who are thinking about scheduling a virtual behavioral health visit, what can they expect?

With Premise, they can expect to connect with their behavioral health counselor in a secure and comfortable way. Today, counseling sessions are held in a virtual-first environment to ensure the safety of both members and providers. Members will be welcomed just as they are, without judgment and with an empathetic approach. After an initial consult, a treatment plan will be developed to address their goals through support, encouragement, and providing the knowledge they need to do all the things that inspire them.

To develop a treatment plan specifically tailored for each member, a behavioral health counselor will gather data through a full assessment of a member’s unique biological, psychological, and social history as well as their current situation. Some members may need to learn and practice new coping skills, some may be looking for support to face their fears, and others may simply need a safe place to grieve and work toward their most healthy self.

As they progress through their treatment plan, members are fully supported by their behavioral health counselor and their local healthcare team, as our behavioral health program is integrated for seamless continuity of care.

At Premise, we know a member’s health is multi-faceted. Mental and emotional wellbeing are just one piece of a member’s unique health journey, so we approach behavioral health as an integral part of healthcare and look at our members from a holistic view. We take an individualized, integrated approach to treatment planning and utilize an evidenced-based, short-term, solution-focused therapy model to work with our members on regulating emotions, tolerating distress, and connecting with others in a positive manner.

To find out more about how Premise removes barriers to accessing behavioral health services, click here.

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