Over the next several months, ABHW will be spotlighting member companies for the Perspectives section of the website. Interviews conducted with ABHW’s members will highlight programs and initiatives they are offering; preparations underway for the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA); and other current topics of interest.
For the December piece, ABHW interviewed Christopher Dennis, MD, MBA from ValueOptions.
Christopher Dennis, MD, MBA, serves as Chief Medical Officer, Commercial Division and Senior Vice President, Regional Medical Director at ValueOptions®. He oversees Commercial Division medical operations, as well as the New York City Service Center’s medical operations: medical affairs, care management and quality assurance. Additionally, he is also responsible for the medical operations management of the company’s Great Lakes Service center in Wixom, Michigan and Troy, New York. He is focused on achieving operational efficiencies and improving the company’s clinical offerings to continue providing exceptional service to clients and members of ValueOptions®.
How do you foresee ValueOptions ® accomplishing the goals set forth by the ACA? What do you think the biggest challenges are for MHBOs as we move forward with the ACA?
Health care reform will assist the public in receiving adequate behavioral health treatment. Due to the individual mandate, Medicaid expansion and lifted limits on pre-existing conditions, an influx of uninsured, underinsured or undertreated population will now be eligible for treatment. Many of the newly insured will have some sort of behavioral pathology and ValueOptions ® will be instrumental in creating and managing treatment options. With regard to the dual eligible population (i.e., those individuals receiving both Medicaid and Medicare funding), ValueOptions ® has created a new pilot in Massachusetts to better manage treatment.
We see challenges with regard to educating individuals about their new treatment options and to ensure that they sign up for the new available services. Given the new demand for mental health treatment options, ValueOptions ® is a leader in innovation and treatment options. For example, ValueOptions ® just launched a new telemedicine initiative which will offer easier access for individuals to receive treatment.
Speaking of challenges, wellness is an important issue for ABHW and its member companies and December can be a tough time for people, often increasing stress anxiety and depression. Are there any tips that ValueOptions ® offers to help people through the holidays?
‘Tis the season to be jolly—and stressed out! For many, increased demands and expectations during the holidays can be overwhelming. Rather than being a time of joy and celebration, many homes are filled with tension, conflict and disappointment.
Several factors contribute to the onset of anxiety, depression and excessive indulgence at this time of year. Most of us begin establishing expectations for the holidays during childhood. What was once a magical and exciting time of year can turn into a dreaded annual chore if we carry unrealistic childlike expectations into adulthood. We may feel responsible for creating the perfect holiday season for our loved ones only to feel guilty or inadequate when we do not succeed.
Commercialism and media hype place pressure on us to over-consume which burdens us with consumer debt, additional weight and emotional fatigue—all which we must try to rid ourselves of after the holidays.
The intense social and cultural pressure to experience nothing but bliss every holiday season becomes particularly painful for those suffering a loss in their lives—whether through death, divorce, job termination or serious health problems. Participating in holiday activities can make painful emotions and memories surface, serving as a sad reminder that someone or something is missing.
It is often difficult enough to meet the challenges of our daily responsibilities, let alone cope with the extra demands of time, energy and money associated with the holidays.
There are ways to manage these seasonal stressors without canceling the holiday season altogether! Here are a few suggestions:
- Be realistic. Few of us have ideal families, unlimited resources or perfect lives. Stop putting pressure on yourself to magically create a perfect scenario during the holidays.
- Communicate. Families often stick to rituals that are stress-producing or have lost their original pleasure. Talk to your loved ones about what has meaning for you at this time in your life.
- Take care of yourself. Don’t overextend yourself to the point that a pleasure turns into a burden. Set limits in terms of your commitments so that you have time for rest, exercise, good nutrition and quality time with loved ones.
- Be independent. It’s easy to get caught up with trying to compete with others because of the intense commercial hype surrounding the holidays. Think for yourself. Make plans that feel right for you. Organize a group and go caroling at a local hospital or nursing home. Give gifts and socialize on your terms.
- Plan ahead. Take inventory of past failures and disappointments and plan differently this year. Ask for support and assistance from family members so that no one is overtaxed.
- Be creative. Make your own traditions. Focus more on spirituality and interpersonal closeness rather than on materialism and over-consumption.
One gift you can give yourself is the gift of physical and emotional health. Although this is not such an easy thing to do during this time of year, ValueOptions strives to assist.
Does ValueOptions ® post anything on the website such as published resources for the members or EAP services?
ValueOptions ® has an award-winning non-public website, AchieveSolutions that is for the exclusive use of our clients and which includes resources as above.
- Mental Health Weekly article on ABHW Support for Million Hearts Campaign(August 6, 2012)
- Joint Paper: Preserve Specialty Behavioral Health Option for the Dual Eligible Population (July 2012)
HEALTHCARE INTEGRATION IN THE ERA OF THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT
Changes are occurring across the healthcare landscape, with a significant focus on integration of behavioral and physical health. This paper is intended to help inform these efforts by focusing on the long history Association for Behavioral Health and Wellness...[More]
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