Using Your Employee Benefits for Mental Health Care

Accessing and paying for mental health care can be tricky. Many mental health professionals do not work directly with insurance, and those who do can have very long wait lists. But did you know that there are some other ways you can pay for mental health care with the assistance of employer-run programs?

  1. Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs). These programs are offered by many employers (large and small). EAPs allow employees to see a contracted mental health professional for 3-10 sessions per year free of charge. Yes, free! Too often, employees don’t know this is a benefit to which they are entitled. So ask your manager or HR department for more information.
  2. Health Savings Accounts/Flex Spending Accounts/Medical Savings Accounts. These aren’t technically a benefit as this is money that you put away pre-tax to use for approved medical expenses. So, your employer doesn’t (usually) give you the money for the accounts, but many do facilitate the opening of such an account. Again, ask your manager or HR department for details.

Need more ideas about how to make the most of your employee benefits? Check out my recent article over at Health eCareers:

Photo credit: Health eCareers

Jealous of Your Co-Workers? How to Cope

Have you ever felt jealous of a co-worker?

Maybe they:

Are more appreciated than you

Have moved up the ladder faster than you

Seem to have more of everything (money, success, friends, possessions) than you

Appear better at their job than you

Photo Credit: Health eCareers

Whatever the specifics, it’s actually not all that unusual to have feelings of jealousy – particularly at work as we spend so much time with our co-workers. But what can you do to tame the green monster?

Check out my recent article over at Health eCareers for ideas about to 1) decipher why exactly you’re having jealous feelings 2) what to do about them.

Here’s an example of what I mean:

To read the entire article, head over to Health eCareers

Photo Credit: Health eCareers


It’s That Time of Year Again…

The holiday season is upon us.  For some that’s a reason for celebration:

For others, this season of the year elicits a reaction more like this:

Or if you’re like me, the impending holidays have you doing this:

Whatever your reaction, the last quarter of the year likely brings up some “stuff” for you:

  • Happy memories
  • Regrets
  • Sadness over things, people and relationships you’ve lost
  • Frustration over things you cannot have
  • Gratitude for the people, things and relationships you do have
  • Sense of anxiety over the crowds, noise and busy-ness that can accompany this time of year
  • Feelings of loneliness over the lack of busy-ness this time of year
  • You get the idea

It can be helpful to talk about these things with a psychologist. Friends and family are great, but sometimes we need an impartial ear to listen. To make an appointment, call 303-828-3080 or email: stephaniesmithpsyd@gmail.com

 

Current Events Overload

I don’t care who you are, where you stand, what you believe or who you are voting for, the political news has been overwhelming. Last week I spoke to the folks over at Self Magazine for some ideas about how to cope with the hourly onslaught of news (and talking about news, and more talking about news) that we’ve all been trying to deal with. Here’s the entire article:

Here’s one of my tips:

There are a bunch of others, too. Including some helpful links on how to do progressive muscle relaxation, where to go to find a good laugh, and where to turn if you need to talk to a professional.

Thanks, SELF!

Talking About Suicide

Suicide has been in the news recently. The recent deaths by suicide of celebrities Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain has people grappling with questions why suicide happens – particularly when it involves people with seemingly happy lives.

I recently got to be part of an article about this very topic over at VICE. Author Ali Wunderman did an amazing job sharing her own mental health struggles. I am so impressed by her honesty and vulnerability in this article. Check it out:

Here’s a quick tip for talking to a friend who you suspect is depressed:

When it comes time to act on your offer, be honest with yourself and your friends about the level of support you can provide. “It can be intimidating to reach out to anyone we suspect is struggling whether it be with mental illness, physical pain or anything else,” Smith says. But even if it’s scary, it’s worth it to try. “The fact of the matter is, it’s not about saying the perfect thing, or fixing all your friend’s problems. It’s just about showing up and being a supportive presence in their life.”

Check out the entire article for more ideas about how to talk to a friend or family member who you suspect might be experiencing thoughts of suicide.

Kids, Appetite and Medication

I’m so excited to be joining up with Produce for Kids for our new series: Ask a Psychologist. Last month I wrote a piece about how to cope when your child’s appetite is affected by medication. Here’s the intro:

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), about 6.1 million children in the United States had been diagnosed with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in the United States as of 2016. ADHD is a disorder that affects a person’s ability to maintain attention and concentration. Those diagnosed with ADHD can struggle to get work done in a timely fashion at home, work and school; social relationships can be tough to maintain as well.

Luckily, there are several, well-researched options for the treatment of ADHD. Behavioral therapy/counseling is typically recommended as a first option. This type of therapy involves a psychologist working with both the child and their family to implement strategies to increase desired behaviors (following directions, controlling impulses) and decrease those that are undesirable (disruptive behaviors). Accommodations at school are also an effective line of treatment. These might include: allowing for movement breaks throughout the course of the day, allowing extra time for tests, and strategically positioning the child in the classroom to reduce distraction.

Another option for the treatment of children diagnosed with ADHD is stimulant medication. Medication can be an important and effective tool for families, but a not-infrequent side effect is loss of appetite. If you notice your child’s appetite changing, or diminishing after starting a stimulant medication, it’s important that you contact the pediatrician or psychiatrist prescribing the medication immediately so that you can troubleshoot together. Some ideas your health care provider might suggest include: