Posts Tagged Managed Behavioral Health Care

Publication Update December 2017

Just a quick update.

Dr. Robert Mines (chairman and psychologist) and Dr. Dani Kimlinger (CEO) from the MINES Team were honored to contribute to an article by Bruce Shutan in this month’s issue of The Self-Insurer. The article is called Beyond Opioids and covers how EAPs, like MINES, and good benefit-plan design can help treat addictions and other substance use issues in an employee population as well as control overall health care spending.

The issue can be viewed here:

 

Check out other Self-Insurer publications here: https://goo.gl/2TjaUV

And check out other MINES publications here: www.minesandassociates.com/about_staff_publications.html

 

To your wellbeing,

The MINES Team

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MINES celebrates 35 years of behavioral health excellence

Did you know that just a few weeks ago, MINES celebrated our 35th anniversary? It’s true, back in January of 1981, MINES was started with the vision of being a psychology firm addressing the needs of its clients based on the expertise of multiple professionals even though it initially consisted of one psychologist, our founder, Dr. Robert A. Mines. Soon after, Dr. Richard Lindsey joined the firm and over the ensuing years, MINES became well-known for providing health psychology services such as its expert case management in behavioral health, a leader in Employee Assistance, and a valued partner to our clients regarding organizational psychology services. We’ve been proud to call Colorado our home and to expand to all 50 states. We’ve seen many changes in our industry over the years but no matter how we partnered with groups or consulted on projects we’ve always maintained our core vision as a guiding principle for doing business: to save lives and influence the course of human events.

So, to commemorate the occasion, we wanted to reconfirm our solemn promise to our clients, past, present, and future, to continue to work in every way that we can to serve the good of those organizations and individuals/families. MINES continues to strive to apply the latest evidenced/research-based practices for the wellbeing of our clients. We do this with compassion and loving kindness to relieve their suffering and enhance the quality of their lives.

As a practical matter and update moving forward, we have rolled out a brand new website at www.minesandassociates.com that will significantly improve the ability of individuals to access our services and information about our program through mobile devices. We have a number of changes to our Provider Portal that will streamline our billing and reporting processes. We’re upping our social media game to provide great content on facebook and twitter (so make sure to check it out!) And we have a number of projects underway that will be rolling out in 2016 that will make it easier and more enjoyable to access services with MINES.

We want to thank all of our clients for their partnership over the years and look forward to the next 35 years! Have a great 2016 and, as always, “to your wellbeing!”

The MINES team

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Environmental and Social Stressors

Environmental and social stressors often negatively impact an individual’s work performance and mental wellbeing.  It might seem as if these stressors are completely out of our control and that one must surrender to their impact.  However, it is important to acknowledge that individuals do have control of how they respond to these stressors. Here, we take a look at some common examples of these types of stressors, and some ways in which we can choose to respond.

 

Environmental Stressors like weather, traffic, and the work environment represent a few examples of things that cannot always be controlled.  The way humans respond to these situations can affect wellbeing.  If there is no way to change one’s reality, there are likely ways to at least balance it.  Consider taking possible measures to balance your own environmental stressors.

 

 

  1. Scheduling: Traffic, for example, can be a huge environmental stressor. Leaving the house late and speeding regularly adds to stress levels.  Rather than cursing the freeways and inanity of one’s fellow drivers, a person can leave home in the morning 30 minutes early; they could put on their favorite music while sipping a nice hot beverage of their choice.  This might make the commute more tolerable, possibly even enjoyable.

 

  1. Personal space: Another aspect of environment has to do with your physical environment.   When you walk into your house after a long day of work how does it feel?  When you sit at your desk at work all day how does it feel?  What can you do to make your spaces feel better, healthier, and more supportive for you?  Everyone is different. For some, having pictures of loved ones on your desk makes a big difference.  For others, keeping your desk or home uncluttered and clean has a huge effect on their sense of control and wellbeing.  Maybe others like to have lots of live green plants around to liven things up, or like to light incense or a candle to clear the air.  Maybe you don’t have a window in your office, but is it possible to make sure you take a few small breaks during the day and go outside for a couple minutes to keep you grounded and feel some sunshine?  Although these may seem like small efforts, they make a big difference in your emotional health and overall wellbeing.

 

  1. We can limit our exposure to environmental stressors. If you are someone who is agitated by listening to or reading the news, you can choose to limit your time doing that activity.  We all know that the news tends to focus on negative stories and violence, and it may be beneficial to substitute an activity that is more calming.  Limiting our exposure to unrealistic images of beauty that can be found on most magazine covers can lead to higher self-esteem.  Perhaps bypassing the tabloid magazine for the bestseller at Barnes & Noble will give you a necessary break to develop self-compassion and inner peace.  Things like pesticides, toxins, and pollutants are out of our control, but we can limit our exposure by eating more organic foods, drinking filtered water, and filtering our air with a HEPA filter.  Things like noise pollution can be out of our control, but installing a white noise machine can drown out the unpleasant noise.

 

Social stressors can also weigh heavy in a person’s life.  An ideal social environment would include meaningful relationships, positive support, and mutual respect.  However, sometimes we are forced to learn how to best relate with individuals we encounter who may manipulate, try to exert control over us, or are emotionally or physically abusive.

 

  1. Boundaries: Create and maintain strong boundaries.  It is okay to limit time with a problematic individual.  It is also permissible to say “no” at times.  It often feels difficult to set boundaries because the person may be angry or upset; however, in the long run boundaries actually help build much stronger relationships.

 

  1. Social support system: Although in some cases we don’t have control over the people in our lives, such as family and coworkers, we do have control over who we invite into our lives for a social support network.   A person’s circle of friends has a strong influence on emotional health and overall wellbeing.  If someone wants to think more positively and then they surround themselves with people who think negatively, they are likely not meeting their goal.  Or take for example a person who wants to get healthier both physically and mentally by partying less.  But that person’s friends put pressure on them to drink and go out during the weekends.  The person in search of health might feel “out of control” or destined to constantly party.  This furthers emotional and physical discomfort while simultaneously being held back from evolving and reaching your goals.  You have a choice who to bring into your support system. You can bring people in who lift you up, inspire you, support you, and help you grow.  Intimate relationships are another area you have choices in.  If your partner is always putting you down or is abusive in any way, they may create a toxic environment that negatively influences your physical and emtional wellbeing.

 

  1. EAP and Counseling: Another way to get some support around social and environmental stressors is through counseling or your Employee Assistance Program (EAP). Counseling is a safe, non-judgemental place to get support around things you are struggling with in your life — whether they are related to work or not. Sometimes counseling is helpful just to gain another perspective or to attain some new coping skills.  EAP is completely confidential and provides a great way to access free counseling services through your benefits.  EAPs often offer telephonic or video sessions if you are too busy to go in for an appointment.

 

Remember:  Our reactions to an environmental or social stressor can determine its impact.  It’s always possible to reduce stress levels by consciously responding to these stressors in a way that can balance their effects.  By practicing this skill often, you will begin to know yourself well enough to tell if an environmental or social stressor is negatively impacting your wellbeing, and you will be able to promptly take steps to improve your emotional and physical health.

 

 

To Your Wellbeing,

Alea Makley, MA – Clinical Case Manager

Alex Rothchild, MA, LPC – Clinical Case Manager

The MINES Clinical Case Management Team

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Psychology of Performance – 42: Integration of Behavioral Health and Medicine in Self-Insured Organizations

There are many conditions, both acute and chronic, which have significant psychological components to them. It is well-documented that medical costs for diabetes, asthma, cardiac events, and others are significantly higher when there is a co-morbid diagnosis of depression, post traumatic stress, or substance use disorder.  As a function of this relationship and the impact of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), there is a need for integrating behavioral health services.

The integration needs to occur at the strategic/systems and tactical levels. On the tactical side, there are already case studies in the public healthcare sectors and in Kaiser Permanente of placing mental health professionals in medical clinics and offices so the doctors and nurses can just walk a patient down the hall to see them once a psychological component has been identified. At MINES we are piloting a wellness coaching model for individuals who are identified by their healthcare provider as a pre-substance use disorder patient, through a Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) grant awarded to Peer Assistance Services.

At the strategic/systems level, integration has significant utility and challenges for self-insured organizations whether as an individual entity or a multi-employer trust. At this level, a key component is the ability for the various vendors to cross-communicate on these types of patients. This involves the ability to do data mining to identify the patients, having an intensive case management behavioral health specialist to be the point person, regular communication between the TPA, pharmaceutical vendor, medical utilization review, behavioral health utilization review and the medical/psychological personnel responsible for treatment. An obvious challenge is getting buy-in from all of these stakeholders. There is no incentive other than good patient care for any of these groups to cooperate with each other. To rectify this, incentives would need to be financial or contractual. Employers have leverage on the contractual side as it is their health benefit and their money. At the time of this blog, there are case-studies of organizations moving this direction; however, specifics are a long way from full integration due to the complexities required.

I would welcome your discussion and wisdom on this issue.

Have a day filled with extending loving kindness to all those you encounter,

Bob

Robert A. Mines, Ph.D., CEO

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Psychology of Performance – 34: Spark!

The book, Spark, by John J. Ratey, M.D. is the holy grail of research applications related to the interaction of exercise, neuroplasticity, and performance. The information on brain chemistry changes in the areas of learning, addictions, anxiety, depression, women’s issues, ADHD, and aging is priceless. The essence of the book is that the data indicated the brain is able to create new neuronal connections, grow new nerve cells throughout life, manage major psychological conditions, pain conditions, and learning is significantly enhanced through exercise. Ratey stated that “exercise is the single most powerful tool you have to optimize your brain function”- based on hundreds of research studies (p.245). Ratey suggested that the more fit you get (regardless of where you start), the “ more resilient your brain becomes and the better it functions both cognitively and psychologically. If you get your body in shape, your mind will follow” (p. 247).

How much is enough? Ratey stated that walking is enough. Low-intensity exercise is at 55 to 65% of maximum heart rate, moderate is 65-75% and high intensity is 75-90%. “The process of getting fit is all about building up your aerobic base” (p.251). Ratey goes on to discuss the role of strength training and flexibility as important elements of optimizing your brain chemistry and hormone levels.

What does this have to do with optimizing your performance at work and in all areas of your life? Everything! Get started today and stick with it.

Have a day filled with optimal brain chemistry,

Robert A. Mines, Ph.D.
CEO & Psychologist

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Psychology of Performance – 32: Nutrition, Depresssion, Alcoholism and Performance

I ran across some interesting information on the role of niacin, depression, and alcoholism in performance at www.doctoryourself.com. It is well documented that depression and/or alcoholism may negatively affect performance across just about any domain one can perform in. In the treatment of depression and alcoholism there are very effective cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy interventions. In addition, exercise and medication may add additional therapeutic effects. The role of nutrition may have further potentiating influence.

According to this site, Bill W., the founder of AA, was successfully treated for depression with 3,000 mg of niacin a day. Unfortunately, this information has not been widely discussed or published in the media. I would be interested to hear from any of you who have used niacin as a means of treating depression or alcoholism and what your results were. Please let us at MINES know.

Have a day filled with mindfulness,

Robert A. Mines, Ph.D.
CEO & Psychologist

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Psychology of Performance – 20 – Early Attachment and Adult Performance Implications

Our early attachments to our primary caregivers may have significant implications for our ability to perform throughout our lives. The good news is that there are mindfulness techniques that can help integrate the information and energy associated with the various attachment categories so that as adults our performance does not have to be limited by the early learning associated with these attachments.

Siegel &  Hartzell, M.Ed., (2003, p.102-112) in their book, Parenting from the Inside Out, describe four patterns of attachment derived from the work of researchers such as Mary Ainsworth, Mary Main, and Erik Hesse, among others. As infants we most likely have one of the following patterns (which can vary by caregiver): Secure, Insecure-Avoidant, Insecure-Anxious/Ambivalent, or Insecure-Disorganized.

Secure attachments are described as having a parental interactive pattern characterized by the parent being emotionally available, perceptive, and responsive. The child sees the parent as being a source of comfort during times of distress, a safe haven, being available, and a secure base. This creates a sense of well being from which the child can go into the world to “explore and make new connections with others” (p.104).

Insecure-Avoidant patterns are associated with parents who are emotionally unavailable, imperceptive, unresponsive, and rejecting. These children avoid closeness and emotional connections to the parent (p.104).

Insecure-Ambivalent patterns are described as having parents who are inconsistently available, perceptive, and responsive and intrusive. The child cannot depend on the parent for attunement and connection. The child develops a sense of anxiety and uncertainty about whether they can depend on their parents (p.105).

Insecure-Disorganization patterns are created by parents who are frightening, frightened, chaotic, disorienting, and alarming to the child. This pattern is often associated with abuse. This creates a situation in which abuse is incompatible with a sense of security. The child develops coping responses that lead to difficulties in regulating emotions, trouble in social communication, difficulties with academic reasoning tasks, a tendency toward interpersonal violence, and a predisposition to dissociation – a process in which normally integrated cognition becomes fragmented (p. 106).

The good news is that for those with insecure attachments there are mindfulness techniques described in Siegel’s book, Mindsight, that can help the individual integrate the insecure attachment memories, patterns, and information in a manner that frees them up from “automatically or habitually” engaging in the pattern in their adult relationships.

The implications of early attachment for the psychology of performance are significant. Secure attachments allow for a base of security which in adulthood can manifest in collaborative interactions in the business environment, for example. The social psychology of group performance is enhanced when members can communicate directly and problem solve from a position of trust. Contrast this with an avoidant attachment pattern in which a team member has a fundamental approach to relationships that is one of distrust and self-reliance. This team member is there in name only and will be perceived as not cooperating, being a maverick, and “not playing well in the sand box.” The anxious attachment style may show up as an accommodating or pleasing style. This person sacrifices their own opinions so as to fit in, may frequently be checking in with the “boss” for approval and reassurance. The group loses this person’s gifts as the person may give in rather than be proactive on a decision point. The disorganized attachment style may contribute to significant disruption in a work group or team’s performance because the person will become overwhelmed during a conflict with either a chaotic or rigid response, either of which can disrupt the flow of energy and information needed for higher performance.

The culture of an organization often is set by the leader of the organization. Part of the definition of culture is the shared set of assumptions as to how we do business. From this, it is possible to see how the impact of the leader’s attachment could influence the culture of the organization. For example, if the leader has an anxious attachment, the organization may have a strong press to accommodate customers, resulting in a high emphasis on customer service which could range from being useful to problematic if taken to a dysfunctional level.

Have a day filled with mindful integration,

Robert A. Mines, Ph.D.
CEO & Psychologist

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Psychology of Performance – 17 Mirror Neurons

In his book The Mindful Therapist, Dr. Dan Siegel discusses the role of mirror neurons in actions that have a perceived intention behind them. He stated that the mirror neurons function as a bridge between sensory input and motor output that allows us to mirror the behavior we see someone else enact (p.36).  Practically this means that when we see someone drinking from a glass, the mirror neurons become activated (firing off electrical currents called an action potential). If we were to drink from the same glass, the same specific neurons that fired when we saw someone else drinking also become activated. Dr. Siegel said “We see a behavior and get ready to imitate it,” (p.36).

The implications of this line of research are significant for performance. For example, if you watch a movie with alcohol being consumed and you are in recovery, now you have internal neuronal firing similar to drinking the alcohol yourself. Now you have to override the neuronal firing with “white-knuckling it,” or better yet with mindful awareness, or you will increase your probabilities of a relapse.

The upside of this research is that seeing others perform a behavior successfully – mentally rehearsing the image – would theoretically strengthen the neuronal firing and increase the probabilities that you will execute the behavior successfully. This concept is foundational to performance coaching. As coaches, therapists, and bosses we need to think about our current training techniques and how they incorporate watching, rehearsing, and doing as part of the sequence.

Have a day filled with Mindfulness,

Robert A. Mines, Ph.D.

CEO & Psychologist

MINES and Associates

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Psychology of Performance – 16 Accountability and Authority

In our consulting through BizPsych (www.BizPsych.com), organizations ask us to assess and intervene with vertical relationship conflicts as well as  cross-departmental conflicts on a regular basis. These conflicts are often rooted in unclear accountability and authority for the C-level, vice-presidents, managers, supervisors and front line producers. This creates significant performance and execution problems throughout the organization.

Elliot Jacques, in his numerous publications defined accountability and authority for management at all levels. Accountability and authority establishes where people stand with each other.  They determine who is able to say what to whom, and who under given circumstances must say what to whom.  They establish who can tell who to do what, especially, in the managerial hierarchy, if one person is being held accountable for what another person does or for the results of what the other person does.

Accountability and authority define the behaviors that are appropriate and necessary in the vertical relationships between managers and their subordinates, and in the horizontal, cross-functional relationships between people.  The vertical relationships are the means by which the work that needs to get done is assigned, resourced, and evaluated; cross-functional relationships are the means by which the flow of work across functions gets processed and improved through time.

He noted that it is absolutely imperative that organizational leaders be clear not only about their own decision-making accountability, but they must also make it equally clear for each and every manager below them in the organization.  All of these managers must also meet regularly in two-way discussions about major issues with their immediate subordinates, in order to get their help in making decisions for which the manager alone must be accountable.  In discussions between managers and subordinates, it is always the manager that is ultimately accountable for decisions.  Even when the subordinate has more knowledge than his or her manager on a given matter and tells the manager what he or she thinks should be done; if the manager accepts the subordinate’s view then it becomes the manager’s decision. There will be times in an organization’s growth or life span when a manager may have multiple roles/levels that they are accountable for. The manager may be a manager, a supervisor and a front line producer on a given day if the department or work group is small enough or does not have the resources to accommodate separate levels and roles. This is a situation referred to as “down in the weeds”, “wearing many hats”, or “collapsed strata (time span).” This is not ideal; however, at times it may be the best we can do.

How does your organization define accountability and authority at each role? What impact has the clarity or lack of clarity had on your organizations effectiveness and performance?

Have a day filled with equanimity,

Robert A. Mines, Ph.D.

CEO & Psychologist

Mines and Associates

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Psychology of Performance – 15 Business Unit Effectiveness, Management and Leadership

How effective are your various business units?

What are your performance indicators?

Do each of your employees get held accountable for the results or just the managers?

All businesses and organizations get to address these questions and do their best to implement solutions depending on the answers. Elliot Jacques and Stephen Clement wrote an especially helpful book, Executive Leadership, which addresses these questions and many more. This posting will address a few of the many nuggets in their book.

One of the recurring BizPsych questions we get to answer and intervene on relates to individual differences in performance.  Jacques and Clement argue that role theory accounts for performance more than individual differences such as personality. They add that people perform to their role in very predictable ways. There is a significant amount of social psychology research to support this. Yet in many businesses, individual personality characteristics are looked at for explanatory hypotheses related to performance over clarity of role. Role clarity for a manager – from Jacques and Clements point of view – would include an adequate organizational design, an assumption that the manager has the knowledge, skills, commitment, values of the organization, and cognitive complexity to do the functions of the role. In the role of manager they would  have formal accountability for results and authority to allocate resources including staff, budget, and decision capability related to the complexity of the  tasks in their role. In addition, they have the interpersonal skills to develop a team of people who think they add value as a manager and are enthusiastic about accomplishing the goals of the business unit. The role clarity for a manager includes organizational support to veto an appointment (their manager has the authority to fire the employee if no other suitable position can be found), decide task assignment, decide personal effectiveness and merit awards, and decide to initiate removal from a role.

If the above conditions are satisfied, Jacques and Clements would predict a higher performance level from that business unit versus those that have role confusion. In our BizPsych division we encounter organization after organization that are addressing these topics in their design. If it comes to dealing with human performance, we are all in continuous recalibration mode.

Have a day filled with loving kindness,

Robert A. Mines, Ph.D.

CEO & Psychologist

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