Your Are Not Alone Lecture Event- Success

Posted on August 7, 2017 · Posted in Uncategorized

Benefits for preventive care for mental health are expected to be added to the Standard Health Benefit by early next year, according to Tawanna Wedderburn.

The CEO of the Bermuda Health Council made the announcement at the You Are Not Alone forum hosted by the Bermuda Mental Health Foundation yesterday evening.

“The Bermuda Health Council is actually reviewing the Standard Health Benefit, which is the basic package that every person has to have by law if you have insurance coverage, and we are expecting by early next year to introduce benefits for preventive care for mental health,” Ms Wedderburn told the audience at the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute.

Ms Wedderburn’s comments came after questions were raised about insurance coverage options on the island for individuals with mental health problems, as well as the high cost of health insurance.

She said there were treatment options available that are covered by insurance, but added: “I can also say that we are working on a plan to ensure that everyone in Bermuda does have access to insurance coverage,” she added. That work has been going on since September of last year, so we hope to be able to release some information to the public soon.”

Ms Wedderburn spoke after a presentation by keynote speaker Chanelle Lawson that highlighted the importance of family support when it comes to mental illness.

“The purpose of family support is to educate, inform and involve family members in the care of their loved one,” Dr Lawson, who owns Offer A Hand Up Counseling in Greenwood, Indiana, said.

“Family is usually the first line of support. Families are often the first to know if something has gone wrong in the life of a child or adult with mental health conditions. Families often take on the role of daily care giver with little or no support or training.”

She added that learning about a family member’s mental illness leads to improved recognition of early symptoms and helps avoid crises.

“Show interest in your family member’s treatment plan, encourage a family member to be active in their treatment plan, provide spoken encouragement, provide a safe environment and plan for a crises.

“Become familiar with the process to access treatment for your family members, know your insurance benefits coverage, know your Government’s policies regarding access to treatment and healthcare.”

She said family members can also become involved and support their loved ones by using supportive language, identifying triggers to a crises and ways to avoid a relapse or crises.

They can also identify ways to respond to a relapse or crises, as well as additional support or resources in the community, she said.

“Be informed. Ask questions, listen to ideas — be responsive when the topic of mental health problems comes up. Educate other people so they’ll understand the facts about mental health problems and don’t discriminate.

“Treat people with mental health problems with respect, compassion and empathy. Learn and identify local resources, become knowledgable about treatment options.”

But she also emphasised that advocacy is key to enhancing and strengthening families in Bermuda, adding: “Advocate for your client, advocate for your family member, advocate for your loved one.

“Family members, law enforcement, Bermuda Government, policymakers, community leaders, clergy members, healthcare providers and other stakeholders can identify and promote collaborative initiatives. So it takes a community — it takes us all working together to advocate. Family members and mental health healthcare providers can work with law makers to change healthcare policies and insurance coverage.”

Dr Lawson also outlined the role of support groups, adding “even the support needs support and that’s the whole premise of support groups — to know that you are not alone”.

The presentation was followed by a question-and-answer session featuring Dr Lawson, Susan Thomas, who spoke about her own experience with mental health, Winston Rogers, the clinical manager of the rehab team at Mid-Atlantic Wellness Institute. and Chris Gibbons, who formed the support group Losing Someone by Suicide after his 25-year-old daughter’s suicide.

Contents pulled from Royal Gazette: