By Nate Ortiz from Lynchburg Business Magazine 

Mental Illness can cause serious disruption in everyday life.

In any given year, approximately one in 25 adults in the United States experiences a serious mental illness that substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities and one in 10 employees suffers from depression. This includes the ability to perform effectively or efficiently at work.

In my role, I am responsible for managing a large team of behavioral health care providers, as well as several administrative team members. Being surrounded by behavioral health care all day means my team is usually more knowledgeable about mental health, but being knowledgeable about mental health and actively prioritizing it in your life can be two different things. My team deals with the stress of the patients and administrators we work with day to day, and if we are not careful, that can weigh heavy on us and lead to burnout.

As a manager, I acknowledge the struggles that my team faces and make an effort to provide mental health and emotional support, in addition to leadership. Specifically, our providers spend all day listening and often do not always have the opportunity to be heard. They are also spread throughout the country, so we provide many opportunities for providers who are remote to interact with their peers and administrators, to help them not feel alone in this, along with the rest of the team.

While I certainly do not have this all perfectly figured out, I have learned some valuable lessons about making mental health a priority along the way:
One of my methods is to get the team together on a regular basis, so my assistance is consistent and the team can understand who we are collectively.
By getting together regularly, we are getting to the same mission: we celebrate wins for each other, share the next month’s big picture goals, as well as ways we can help one another to reach those goals. We have found that it is important to have a culture of celebration, of each other, along with small wins.

Creating a culture of collaboration is also very important and I have learned to put in an extra effort to create new ways to collaborate and work together with remote team members. I spend a great deal of my time reaching out to the remote team, to open up those communication and collaboration channels as much as possible, to make that the culture. My team also consistently communicates by video, which removes that distance.

I keep an open door policy both for my in person team members and remote colleagues. With these open door meetings, my goal is not only to be available to coach professionally, so each person can become the best employee, but to help each person become their best selves.

I also like to preach the importance of work/life balance, which is a part of my practice for mental wellness and self-care. Personally, I have to weigh opportunity costs and be ok with being less connected to work at times. I have had to make a clean break between work and home life, and it has benefited my well-being and my family. I am not the only person preaching work/life balance here at our Lynchburg office, but not everyone is naturally like that.

I do my best to lead others in discovering that balance, by learning to build appropriate boundaries, before potentially more things enter their lives, such as marriage and children. I describe work/life balance as having a quality of life, of looking at the whole thing. If there is not a balance, then your whole life is affected. Whether you are a younger or an older employee, work remotely or in-person, we are all dealing with the same issues at work.

You are also the same person whether you are or are not at work; you cannot just turn off who you are personally. If you are going through a tough time at work, you need to give yourself the grace to know you will not always be “on.”

What else can you do? Take that 10-minute walk. It is something small, but see it as an investment rather than a break. There is a tendency to think 10 minutes away from your desk is a break or slacking, but it is more of an investment of time to come back and do what needs to be done, for both yourself and others, because you will be less stressed and therefore more productive.

This applies to both administrative team members and the providers I supervise. If you’re not keeping yourself cared for, if you’re not well at work,
not only do you suffer, but the people depending on you suffer as well.

By Jeanine Miles, LPC

Original article posted on NAMI

Unprecedented need exists for child and adolescent mental health services in today’s communities, however, parents have limited options at their disposal. Shortages of child psychologists and psychiatrists are leaving our most vulnerable populations without care. Currently, all U.S. states are facing high or severe shortages, with many communities lacking even one qualified child and adolescent psychiatrist.

We need an effective solution, and it might be telebehavioral health. This convenient, accessible model of care has been gaining traction: Studies consistently reveal high satisfaction rates for children, adolescents and parents, often reaching above 90%. In fact, a 2013 studydetermined that telebehavioral health might be better than in-person care for children and adolescents because this age group often expresses an unwillingness or reluctance to participate in traditional therapy sessions.

Telebehavioral health might be a natural solution for improving access to care, but that’s just one benefit. As a counselor who offers telesessions, I’ve seen many more. Consider the following:

Comfortable Surroundings

Clinical office settings often intimidate children and adolescents. I find that younger populations are more willing to open up when they are in their own environment surrounded by familiar possessions or in reach of pets who may offer comfort. With telebehavioral health, I also get clues and information from a home environment I never see in an office setting.

For example, one child was well-behaved during our traditional office appointments. Yet her mother described a very different child with erratic behaviors while at home. Through our telebehavioral health sessions, I could see family interactions that confirmed the mother’s assessment. I was then able to teach the young girl and her family healthy coping techniques right there “at home.”

Familiar Modes Of Communication

Younger generations have grown up with technology. In fact, a 2015 study shows 67% of teens own a smartphone and spend more than four hours daily engaged with it. Videoconferencing, therefore, is a natural fit for today’s youth. Many teens prefer telesessions compared to traditional office sessions because it’s familiar and helps build trust. Simply put: Today’s youth are more comfortable communicating through a screen.

Easier Scheduling

One of the greatest barriers to engaging younger populations in mental health treatment is stigma. Many adolescents fear their peers will find out they go to therapy and ask questions. Professional shortages and scheduling challenges often causes students to miss school to attend therapy sessions. When a student leaves school early or checks in late, their peers may ask questions or make them feel uncomfortable.

With telebehavioral health, scheduling becomes much easier, as sessions can take place outside of traditional office hours. Patients do not have to miss school, nor do they run the risk of running into someone they know in a waiting room.

When choosing a telebehavioral health care organization or provider for your child, it’s important to do research before pursuing treatment. Things to consider are whether or not they are HIPAA-compliant, if they offer technical or care navigation support, whether they have providers licensed in your state, and if you can pay with your insurance plan. A good place to start is a reference guide, such as the one created by Open Minds that lists reputable telebehavioral health organizations.

Telebehavioral health care is changing the way communities and families approach mental health services. At a time when the need for mental health care is soaring, this option holds great promise for addressing gaps in care and providing parents with a critical resource for addressing their child’s health and well-being.

 

Jeanine Miles, LPC, Cognitive Behavioral Therapist with Inpathy and the Director of Business Development and Training at the Center for Family Guidance. Jeanine is a New Jersey Licensed Professional Counselor and has over 20 years of administrative and management experience in healthcare and behavioral healthcare. She is responsible for the development and implementation of new programs including overseeing all start-up projects, social skills training and school based programs. Jeanine has provided therapy and other telebehavioral health services through Inpathy since the program was launched and has long been an advocate for telebehavioral health.