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Health Break: What to do if you have a mental health crisis

A podcast for UPMC Health Plan members, Health Break is your quick guide to caring for your mental and physical health, prioritizing wellness, and making the most of your health insurance plan.

Episode 19: Take a Health Break with Laura Francis

Laura Francis, Director of Behavioral Health Clinical Programs at UPMC Health Plan, takes a Health Break with us to review important resources you can use if you are having a mental health crisis. 


Episode transcript:

Camille: Welcome to Health Break by UPMC Health Plan, your quick guide to health, wellness, and how to make the most of your health insurance plan. Listen during your coffee break, lunch break, or anytime you need a break. I’m your host, Dr. Camille Clarke-Smith. I help to oversee the quality of the plans we offer at UPMC Health Plan.

Alex: And I’m your co-host, Alex Treanor. I’m a senior health coach who works with our members on healthy lifestyle habits and goals. This is your… Health Break.

Camille: Hey everyone! Dr. Camille Clarke-Smith here. And today we have with us Laura Francis, Director of Behavioral Health Clinical Programs at UPMC Health Plan, and she will be sharing with us important resources that you can use if you are having a mental health crisis.

If you are currently having a medical or mental health emergency, call 911.

Welcome, Laura.

Laura: Thanks for having me today.

Camille: What situations are considered mental health crises?

Laura: Yes, typically we consider a mental health crisis as a situation in which a person has thoughts of harming themselves or somebody else, or they’re unable to function effectively. How one defines their ability to function is different for different people, so crisis can be pretty subjective—but there are warning signs to which we want to pay particular attention. These may include social withdrawal, unwanted or repeated thoughts that life is not worth living or of self-harm, and also drastic changes to daily routines like sleeping, eating, taking care of yourself, or your responsibilities like work and family.

Camille: If you or someone you know is having a mental health crisis, what should you do?

Laura: Sure. There are a number of things you can do and various resources available for people in crisis.

First, you may want to call your doctor and let them know how you’re feeling and they can help you determine next steps. You may want to call your local mental health center.

For people who are in immediate danger you can call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room.

There’s also the National Suicide Prevention [Lifeline] at 1-800-273-8255. Your county in which you reside will also have a crisis center that you can call.

There’s also a crisis text line where you can text the word home, H-O-M-E, to 741-741 from anywhere in the United States, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to connect to a crisis counselor via text.

And finally, you can contact UPMC Health Plan Behavioral Health Services at 1-888-777-8754 and press 1 for emergency assistance. Help is available 24/7.

Camille: What tools does UPMC Health Plan offer for mental health support?

Laura: Yes, UPMC Health Plan has quite a few tools and resources to support our members’ mental health and wellness.

The first thing that comes to mind is RxWell, which is our digital app. Members can download the app from the Apple App Store or Google Play and choose from a variety of programs, including ones for depression, anxiety, and stress. You can practice techniques to build self-management skills and work with a digital coach via text messaging who can help you navigate the app and stay motivated.

We also have licensed behavioral health clinicians at the Health Plan who can provide telephonic mental health support to our members. Our staff can screen and assess members for behavioral health needs, provide education, help members set goals to develop self-management skills, and coordinate treatment if needed.

We also offer counseling through LifeSolutions for those UPMC Health Plan members whose plan covers that.

And finally, we offer a stress management texting program where members can receive stress management tips. It’s really easy to enroll. You can just text rest, R-E-S-T, to 876-247.

Camille: Thank you so much, Laura, for taking a Health Break with us today.

Laura: And thanks for having me.

Camille: Visit the show notes to get connected with tools and programs that can support your mental health based on your coverage type.
Find show notes and more information at Join us as we explore other health and wellness topics in the next episode of Health Break.
This podcast is for informational and educational purposes. It is not medical care or advice. Individuals in need of medical care should consult their personal care provider. Views and opinions expressed by the hosts and guests are solely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of UPMC Health Plan and its employees.

Get help right away if you have thoughts of hurting yourself. 

  • The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides free and confidential support for people in distress. Help is available 24/7 at 988 or 1-800-273-8255 (TTY: 711). Callers can remain anonymous if they choose. 
  • Call your doctor or a mental health center. 
  • Call the UPMC Health Plan Behavioral Health crisis line at 1-888-777-8754. Press 1 for emergency assistance. Help is available day and night, seven days a week. 
  • Go to the nearest emergency room. 

If you are having a medical or mental health emergency, call 911. You can also call resolve Crisis Services at 1-888-7-YOU-CAN (1-888-796-8226). 

Get connected to tools and programs that can support your mental health based on your coverage type. 

About Laura Francis: 

Laura Francis has more than 25 years of behavioral health experience working in community mental health and managed care settings. Presently, she is Director of Behavioral Health Clinical Programs at UPMC Health Plan, where she manages the behavioral health coaching and case management team and is responsible for program development focused on supporting the emotional health and wellness of UPMC Health Plan members. Laura earned a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the Pennsylvania State University and a master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Pittsburgh. She is a licensed social worker in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. 

About Dr. Camille Clarke-Smith: 

Camille Clarke-Smith, EdD, is a program director in the Quality Improvement, Medicare Stars Department at UPMC Health Plan, where she leads the Medicare Faith and Wellness Program, a 3- to 12-week health and wellness challenge. She is also the founder of the nonprofit Transforming the Health of African American Women (THAW) Inc. She earned a doctorate in health and physical activity education from the University of Pittsburgh in addition to a master’s in exercise science and a bachelor’s in psychology and sociology. She is currently pursuing her master’s degree in social work at Carlow University. 

About Alex Treanor: 

Alex Treanor is a lead health coach at UPMC Health Plan. As a lifestyle health coach, she specializes in helping you lose weight, eat healthy, get more physical activity, be less stressed, and quit tobacco. Alex has a master’s in Kinesiology, Integrative Wellness from Point Loma Nazarene University. She has been coaching since 2014 and is a Nationally Board Certified Health & Wellness Coach and Certified Personal Trainer. Alex is passionate about helping people improve their relationship with food and exercise while creating healthy, sustainable routines filled with enjoyment. Alex enjoys spending time with her husband, walking with her dog, and eating tacos in the sunshine.