Independent Health, a not-for-profit health plan headquartered in Buffalo, New York, serves nearly 330,000 members and provides innovative health care products and benefits designed to engage consumers in their health and well-being.
Why did your organization become a member of The Anti-Stigma Coalition?
Independent Health recognizes mental health just like physical health is a critical part of an individual’s overall health and wellbeing. As such, we are deeply committed to treating the whole person. We are committed to helping our associates, members, and employers recognize the signs, understand what people are dealing with, and respond appropriately to support their mental health. We believe there should be no shame or stigma attached to getting help and mental health should be treated just like any physical health condition.
How are people with mental health challenges impacted by stigma?
While there have been great strides taken, many people may still feel a stigma attached to seeking help or admitting they struggle with mental health issues. Independent Health strives to help break that stigma and provide access to treatment.
Does your company provide mental health support/programming for your employees?
Yes, Independent Health offers many programs and resources for our own associates, including training for our leaders. In fact, Independent Health received the Bell Seal from MHA National in recognition of our workplace mental health programs and resources, including our Mental Health Toolkit, which was created in partnership with Horizon Health Services. And just this year, Independent Health launched the ICU Program, an awareness campaign designed to reduce the stigma and comes from the Center for Workplace Mental Health. We provide some of these same programs to our employer groups and members through our Mental Health toolkit. Many of the resources and educational trainings can be found here.
We partner with other experts in the community, including Mental Health Advocates and Horizon to provide additional training and resources.
What impact is the Anti-Stigma Campaign having in the community?
Independent Health has noticed an increased awareness regarding the importance of Mental Health not only amongst our membership, but across our provider network as well. We have seen an increase in members receiving Behavioral Health treatment from outpatient providers, both in-person and virtually. Having virtual options has helped removed barriers for members to access care more quickly and in an environment that is most comfortable for them. Amongst our primary care providers, we see an increased interest and desire to embed behavioral health treatment options within their practice in order to help their patients as holistically and efficiently as possible. Increased levels of screenings and dialogue are occurring at all care settings, and are having positive impacts on our community largely in part to the great work the Anti-Stigma Campaign is doing to normalize the subject of mental health.