BATON ROUGE, La (BRPROUD) — The month of May is set aside to bring awareness to mental health and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana says it’s time to check in with yourself about how you’re feeling and how well you are handling life situations.
“While it’s always important to check in on your mental health, it’s become even more important in the past two years,” said Dr. Jeremy Wigginton, Blue Cross medical director. “Our mental health affects what we think and how we feel, making it an important piece of our overall health and well-being.”
During the COVID-19 pandemic, it triggered a steep increase in mental health needs. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there was a 25 percent worldwide increase in the number of people experiencing depression and anxiety.
Mental health affects physical health, Dr. Wigginton said. “When people are dealing with stress, anxiety or depression, they often have symptoms like headaches, stomach issues or sleep disruption. Living with that for a long period of time can affect your body’s ability to fight off infections. It can also make any long-term health conditions you have worse. That’s why it’s important to regularly check in on how you’re doing. And, don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it.”
One way to tackle anxiety and depression is to exercise. Dr. Wigginton says that exercise increases blood flow in the brain and causes your body to release hormones that boost positive feelings.
To raise awareness of mental health and give opportunities for healthy exercise, Blue Cross has partnered with Blue Krewe, the nonprofit operator of Blue Bikes in New Orleans, to sponsor a free ride promotion during May.
How to ride:
1. Download the Blue Bikes NOLA app, which is available in the App Store and Google Play.
2. To redeem your promo code and start your free ride, open your Blue Bikes NOLA app and tap on your name in the upper-left corner. This will pull up a sidebar of account options. Tap on “promo codes,” which will take you to the code redemption screen.
3. Enter the promo code LetsRide in the field provided and tap “submit.” This will give a free, 30-minute ride.
Each individual rider can only use this code one time through Tuesday, May 31. The Blue Bikes free ride codes are only valid for trips within the bikeshare program’s service area.
Show us how you used the LetsRide code by posting photos on your personal social media, tagging Blue Bikes (@BlueBikesNOLA) and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana (@BCBSLA), using the hashtags #CheckIn and #LetsRide.
Riders will be charged the standard Blue Bikes rate of 15 cents per minute plus a $1 unlocking fee for any time they ride outside of the free 30 minutes. All other standard Blue Bikes fees such as out-of-hub convenience charge and out-of-service-area fee apply.
Mental Health Resources
Blue Cross has several programs and services to help members stay well and get help for their mental health needs.
- Health Coaching: Blue Cross has an in-house care team who support members dealing with long-term health needs, serious illnesses or acute injuries. Blue Cross health coaches work with members to find social service community organizations and resources close to them, connect with behavioral health providers in their network or build up skills to be resilient in difficult situations. To learn more about Care Management programs and services or to sign up for health coaching, visit www.bcbsla.com/Stronger. Members do not pay anything to work with a health coach.
- Online Behavioral Health Visits: Blue Cross members can use BlueCare to have online visits with psychology or psychiatry providers who are trained and certified in telehealth care. BlueCare behavioral health providers can help with anxiety, depression, stress, grief, substance abuse, coping with life transitions, couples counseling and more. Create a BlueCare account at www.BlueCareLA.com or with the BlueCare (one word) mobile app for Apple and Android devices. Then, simply log in and schedule a behavioral health appointment. Blue Cross also has network behavioral health providers who treat patients through telehealth. Ask your provider about options or check the online directory to find an in-network behavioral health provider near you.
- Facebook Live Broadcasts: During May, Blue Cross will host Facebook Live educational events in which members of the insurer’s care team will share tips for mental health awareness, finding healthy ways to deal with stress and avoiding social isolation. Check Blue Cross’ Facebook page to see dates for upcoming sessions. You can RSVP and share these events from your personal social media to invite friends and family.