The world’s attention has been almost singularly focused on COVID-19 in the last few months—as it should be. In addition to battling this devastating disease, we also want to make sure that the “silent pandemic” that has accompanied COVID-19 is similarly recognized, as Americans struggle with the effects of physical distancing, including social isolation, depression and anxiety.
The COVID-19 pandemic has created a surge in mental health issues, with approximately half of Americans reporting the pandemic has affected their mental health, according to a recent poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation. In any given year, about one in five Americans experience a mental health condition.
In an effort to recognize the strain on mental health and encourage everyone to get the help they need, Anthem, Inc., partnered with the National Alliance for Mental Illness, or NAMI, to celebrate Mental Health Month during May and assist in the launch of the You Are Not Alone awareness campaign, culminating in a virtual walk on May 30.
Humans are social beings, and while we need to remain physically distant during this time, we can still be socially connected – in fact, several studies have shown that this connection may be critical to both our mental and physical health.
This mental health month, as we struggle with the impact of COVID-19, I encourage everyone to extend support by calling a senior who may be lonely or alone, texting a friend who’s working long hours or joining family for a video dinner. We’re not alone if we join together to support one another.
Anthem has pledged to assist NAMI in sharing this message, as well as others about reducing the stigma sometimes associated with mental health, to consumers, care providers and employers.
In addition to supporting others, it is important we all take time to care for ourselves. And there are tools available to help. In response to COVID-19, we have introduced new resources and initiatives developed in partnership with leading community and health partners to provide support for the whole health needs of individuals, families, employers, providers, advocates, and communities, including:
- Psych Hub, developed by mental health advocates and other national health insurers, offers a free digital resource site to help individuals and care providers address behavioral health needs resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.
- AnthemEAP.com, provides informational resources to assist Anthem affiliated health plan members in addressing and navigating their mental health and substance use conditions.
- Aunt Bertha, a leading social care network, helps connect individuals and families to free and reduced-cost social services in their communities.
We recognize the importance of me-time and carving out a part of each day so people can do things that rejuvenate them — such as listen to a podcast, do yoga, connect with a friend or go outside and just breathe in fresh air. It may seem like the world’s burden is heavier than ever, but even five minutes can go a long way.
We’re asking everyone — our employees included — to share how they spend their #MeMinutes on social media so we can connect with and support each other, even if it is virtually. This can help remind all of us that You Are Not Alone and we can all help each other in finding ways to best cope with the challenges we face.
Take a look at how I and some of our Anthem Health Champions, like Billy Jean King and Magic Johnson, are spending their #MeMinutes. And share how you’re spending your #MeMinutes by filling out a card and posting a photo to social media with the hashtag. Download a #MeMinutes card here.