Take action to help improve your mental health

If you’ve been struggling with your mental health, you’re not alone. The U.S. is facing a mental health crisis that experts say is growing worse.

Nearly 1 in 5 Americans report the pandemic has made a significant impact on their mental health. The American Psychological Association also notes a dramatic increase in people seeking help in the last few years, citing several reasons, including the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s been tough for a long time and many people’s resiliency has been stretched to the breaking point,” said Dr. Rhonda Randall, chief medical officer at UnitedHealthcare. “That’s why it’s more important than ever to understand what kind of help you can get if you feel like your mental health is at risk.”

May is Mental Health Awareness Month and may offer a chance to evaluate your own mental well-being or the mental health of someone you care about — and to learn about available resources.

Here are answers to three common questions about mental health treatment: 

    1.  What are the symptoms of a mental health condition?

The signs of mental health issues can vary but there are some common themes. Symptoms can become a bigger concern when they cause frequent stress or an ongoing inability to function from day to day. Things to watch for include:

— Constantly feeling sad or down

— Withdrawal from friends, family or daily interests

— Eating or sleeping too much or too little

— Extreme mood changes, including excessive irritability and anger

— Issues with alcohol or drug use

— Excessive fears or worries

If one or more of these issues is creating ongoing problems, consider reaching out for help. For less serious, intermittent issues, a focus on lifestyle changes may help to alleviate challenges.

2.     Where can I get support?

To understand your coverage and options for mental health services, start by signing into your health plan account or calling the number on your member ID card. You may also be able to find a mental health specialist through your insurer’s provider search tool.

Your primary care physician (PCP) can also be a good resource. When you share a mental health concern, your PCP may discuss your symptoms, give guidance and suggest next steps, including the option of referring you to a mental health specialist.

3.     How can I connect to care?

The pandemic fast-tracked technology to support some ways we receive care, including digital tools that help people with mental health issues get treatment. For instance, eligible UnitedHealthcare members have access to Sanvello, an app that offers on-demand support for things like stress, anxiety and depression. 

Additionally, virtual visits for mental health care help make it possible for new and existing patients to connect with a care team by phone or computer, from the comfort of home. This virtual access may be more convenient and can help eliminate some barriers to care, such as distance from a traditional in-person therapy setting or lack of reliable transportation.

While the pandemic may have increased the need for behavioral health services, it has also created a broader conversation about the importance of maintaining good mental health. The heightened awareness may help reduce the stigma that still keeps some people — as many as half with mental health issues — from getting the help they need.

“We’re finally talking more openly about mental health and how it’s as important as physical health to overall well-being,” Dr. Randall said. “If there is a silver lining here, it’s that more people are feeling empowered to ask for help with less worry of consequences.”

For more information about supporting your mental health, visit uhc.com.