Mental health and physical health are often thought of as separate components of a person’s overall well-being. However, the two go hand-in-hand – impacting one another and influencing their health journey.

In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, mental illnesses, such as depression, can increase an individual’s risk for physical health problems, like diabetes, heart disease and stroke. The same can be said for physical health issues increasing their chances of developing a mental health condition.

The widespread issue

One in five U.S. adults experienced mental illness in 2020, according to the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI). Yet less than 50% of people received treatment.

Dr. Josette Gordon-Simet, senior medical director at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska (BCBSNE), said the stigma associated with mental health can prevent patients from seeking help.

“They don’t want to have the diagnosis for fear that they may be judged, not only by their coworkers, but by their treating providers, family members and other individuals about whom they care and love,” Gordon-Simet said.

Overcoming the stigma associated with mental illness, learning how to recognize the warning signs and knowing where to go for care are important factors in maintaining well-being. May is Mental Health Awareness Month, making it the perfect time to grow your knowledge.

Recognizing the signs

Spotting mental health red flags can be challenging because symptoms vary by illness. A few common signs in adults include the following, according to NAMI:

  • Feeling excessive worry, fear or sadness
  • Avoiding friends and social activities
  • Inability to carry out daily tasks or handle problems and stress
  • Overuse of substances, such as alcohol or drugs

The signs in children can differ. Gordon-Simet said caregivers should monitor children for:

  • Lack of interest in favorite activities
  • Regression in behaviors, such as loss of bowel and bladder control
  • An increase in aggression, anxiety or difficulty sleeping

“I would encourage the parent, if they’re seeing a change, to connect with their pediatrician or family physician to discuss where the right resources are and the right approach for their family in their specific situation.” Gordon-Simet said. “Every treatment plan has to be individualized.”

Additionally, Gordon-Simet stressed the importance of having trained professionals treat those who are struggling. Family, friends and coworkers can provide support.

Care options for BCBSNE members

BCBSNE has several mental health resources available that offer members convenient and confidential assistance, including:

Teletherapy: This benefit, provided through the Amwell® app, gives members access to licensed therapists, who are available by appointment seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. local time, to assist with a variety of conditions, including:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • Stress
  • And more

Other in-network health care providers offer telehealth services as well. For additional information, visit

Care management: BCBSNE’s care management team includes behavioral health nurses who assist members in managing their health conditions by:

  • Sharing resources
  • Managing medications
  • Coordinating care

This resource is powered by the Wellframe app. Visit to learn more.

Additional resources

To access free, confidential mental health resources, visit the CDC’s website. Online visitors will find:

  • Support for crisis situations
  • Tools for locating a health care provider
  • Resources for older adults, LGBTQ+ people, veterans and more

For additional articles like this, visit Health and Wellness.

Amwell® is an independent company that provides telehealth services for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska.

Wellframe is an independent company that provides mobile enabled care management services to Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska. Wellframe is responsible for its services.