BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — According to Blue Shield of California, depression, and anxiety from the pandemic continue to skyrocket.
But in order to meet the growing demand for behavioral health services, Blue Shield of California is making mental health support easier, more accessible, and free.
“’Wellvolution’ is Blue Shield’s digital health platform and the fantastic thing about it is that it provides access to a number of resources for Blue Shield members. Through Headspace we have access to a variety of mental health mindfulness exercises and so we’re thrilled that we are now adding Ginger as an offering,” said Kenli Urruty, Psychologist and Director of Training at Headspace Health.
According to the California Healthcare Foundation, nearly 1 in 24 have a serious mental illness.
While there are 11 occupational therapists within Kern County from Blue Shield, Urruty said that apps like Headspace and Ginger are created to offer mental health support right in the palm of people's hands.
“Ginger provides on-demand access to behavioral health coaching. We also offer self-guided mental health activities through the app and in addition we offer therapy and psychiatry services that would be in-network for Blue Shield members so really a full spectrum of care regarding behavioral and mental health which is really exciting.”
She added that there are oftentimes many barriers that people face when undergoing the traditional way of getting support for their mental health, such as provider availability and transportation especially in rural areas.
That is why Nicole Bigelow of the Healing the Wound Foundation reminds people to never be ashamed to ask for help, as mental health issues are escalating.
“We really have to be flexible so we can meet the needs of people as mental health issues really are escalating as the pressure is on for people. Don't be ashamed or embarrassed and that it's okay to ask for help. You’re not broken or weak, you’re human.”
Bigelow tells 23ABC that having online mental health services available 24 hours a day is super beneficial considering that everyone has different schedules, and a crisis can occur at any given moment.
“These resources are available 24 hours a day. People have different lives; they have different circumstances. To be able to access online services at different times of the day. It’s right inside their home, they don’t have to find a babysitter.”
Demand for therapists continues to rise as a result of the pandemic and has caused a shortage of therapists in kern county and statewide.
The hope is that resources like Headspace and Ginger will help.
“We are seeing unfortunately significant shortages in therapists. December of 2021 alone we saw a 447 percent increase in demand for behavioral health coaching services and over a 500 percent increase for a demand in our therapy and psychiatry services,” said Urruty.