We must focus on our mental health during COVID-19 pandemic – a message from our CEO

How are you doing today?

It’s a question we ask each other all the time, mostly out of courtesy. We ask it so often, in fact, that the question has lost much of its meaning. We seldom ask it expecting an honest answer. That’s too bad, because these days a lot of our neighbors need us to ask that question — and mean it.

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected our lives in ways we couldn’t have imagined a year ago. It’s affected our jobs, our friendships, our family schedules, our daily routines. Almost nothing in our lives has been the same. All that change and the stress that comes with it has taken a toll on our mental and emotional health.

It’s time we do something about that.

Let’s be clear: This is not an isolated problem. Two in five Kansans face mental or emotional health challenges each year. Of our young Kansans, 62% have experienced a major depressive episode. During the pandemic, 61% of seniors have experienced limited social interaction, which we know causes increased stress and anxiety.

For our members, the top three uses of telehealth services during the pandemic have been related to behavioral health.

These numbers are alarming. They should cause us to stop and take stock of ourselves and those around us.

At Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas, we are focused on improving the health of all Kansans — not just those who carry our insurance. Because of that, we’ve launched a new website: ANewStateofMind.com. It’s full of free resources and information for all Kansans to begin to manage their mental and emotional health.

You’ll find links to community resources, articles, videos, webinars, assessment quizzes, mental health toolkits, information for teens and much more. We hope that Kansans across the state can use these resources to take the first step toward caring for their whole selves.

We believe there are better days ahead. Months from now, normal life will begin to return. But the challenges of mental and emotional health will still be with us. Let’s use this moment to recognize those challenges and begin to give ourselves and our neighbors the care they need.

And, perhaps most of all, let’s start asking each other that simple, everyday question – How are you doing today? – and really mean it.

Matt All, President/CEO of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas.

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