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Kicking-Off Mental Health Month with Audrey

Audrey Reich is the Behavioral Health Program Manager at San Luis Valley Health.

May is Mental Health Month, and we will be highlighting the beneficial services that our Behavioral Health team at San Luis Valley Health offers our patients.  Audrey Reich is the Behavioral Health Program Manager and recently sat down to chat about some of the benefits her department can offer patients.

Elario: Audrey, I think it’s safe to say there is a stigma associated with therapy that sometimes makes people uncomfortable to seek out services.  Tell us a little more about why they should not be uncomfortable.

Audrey: First, I think it’s really normal for folks to feel uncomfortable when attending counseling in the beginning. It’s new, you don’t know what to expect, and it can be scary.  So, first, what you can expect if you attend a counseling session, is to spend the first 1-2 sessions really getting to know your counseling, sharing information on your background and current struggles, and developing personal goals.  We encourage folks to only share what they are comfortable sharing and to spend time letting us earn your trust.  One of the best ways to know if counseling will work is if there is a personality “fit” between the counselor and the client and if there is trust. This takes time, and our counselors know how to gently develop that relationship over time. 

Mental health and mental struggles have been stigmatized in our society forever. It’s assumed that if you seek mental health support, you must be weak and can’t fix your own problems.  However, I believe that it takes an incredibly strong and brave person to face their struggles directly by seeking counseling. 

More importantly, behavioral health services aren’t just for folks who have significant mental health struggles.  For example, we know that depression, much like diabetes or heart disease, is a medical condition that requires treatment and preventative measures to stay in remission.  Through counseling, we help folks develop strategies to prevent symptoms from continuing or getting worse, helping them to feel better. 

LeAnn Sanchez has over 14 years of experience as a Licensed Professional Counselor.

Elario: What kind of benefits have you seen develop from people who have participated in therapy?

Audrey:  First and foremost, the benefit is that people begin to feel better, more able to tackle their struggles head-on, and improve their general well-being.  We work with a lot of people who have chronic medical conditions.  Many folks don’t realize that chronic medical conditions often go hand-in-hand with depression and stress and that unless both are addressed; it’s difficult for your chronic medical condition to improve.  For example, if you have diabetes and depression/stress, you’re less likely to feel motivated or put effort into eating healthy and exercising if you’re feeling constantly lethargic, not sleeping, and feeling “blah” about life.  Counseling is a proven strategy to not only improve depression but also to improve medical symptoms.  Folks can expect to improve their blood sugar, blood pressure, and general well-being by participating in counseling.

Additionally, people benefit from developing insight into who they are, gaining an “outsider’s” perspective on their current/life situation and coming up with new ideas.  Someone once said, “the most meaningful and long-lasting relationship is the one we develop with ourselves.” Counseling certainly helps improve our relationship with our self, a lifetime investment!

Counseling isn’t always the stereotype we assume, where you lie on the couch and divulge all of your dirty secrets.  Now a day’s it is often brief, solution-focused, and targets improved functioning through skill building. It’s tailored to individual needs and goals.

Elario: Are therapy services covered by insurance?

Audrey: Most insurance covers counseling. Sometimes folks have a co-pay. It really depends on your personal plan.  We can work with you to determine if your personal plan is covered, so I’d encourage folks to call us directly with questions.  However, even if insurance doesn’t cover our services, we offer a very reasonable hourly rate by giving a 40% discount at time of service.  We try to eliminate as many barriers to treatment as possible and have lots of options. Plus, employees and their family members each receive three free counseling sessions per calendar year.  At SLV Health, we prioritize health, from head to toe.

If you are interested in learning more about the services Audrey and her team offer, please feel free to give them a call with any other questions and to discuss your options: 

9719) 589-8008.