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A Whole Person Approach to Physical and Behavioral Health

As Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield works to champion a healthier Arkansas, we understand that health is influenced by many factors, including our physical health, our mental health, and our social needs. These factors are intertwined with mental health conditions often exhibiting as physical symptoms and vice versa. To truly create a healthier Arkansas, we must acknowledge each element impacting an individual’s health. By better understanding the connection, individuals can better invest in their health, and as an organization we can provide more well-rounded care to our communities.

Unexpected benefits of physical activity

Physical activity is an aspect of health that has wide reaching benefits outside of physical health. In addition to weight loss and building muscle, physical activity can:

  • Improve brain health – The CDC says that regular physical activity can help keep your thinking, learning, and judgment skills sharp as you age.
  • Increase quality of sleep – A study from Sleep Med shows that Aerobic exercise improves self-reported sleep and quality of life in older adults with insomnia.
  • Reduce risk of anxiety and depression – According to a 2021 publication from BMC Public Health, studies suggest that higher physical activity is associated with higher well-being and quality of life, as well as lower depression, anxiety, and stress.

You can find easy and unexpected ways to add more physical activity to your daily routine. Manager of Health and Well-being Kristen Lippencott recently shared additional tips on how to introduce more physical activity into your life in simple, impactful ways.

The need for behavioral health support in Arkansas

Understanding the benefits of physical health as it relates to mental health is key as we work to provide much needed holistic mental health care. In fall 2021, nearly 38% of adults in Arkansas reported symptoms of anxiety or depression. When it comes to seeking behavioral health care to address these concerns, many face a system that’s hard to understand, navigate, and access due to fragmented care, high costs, a shortage of clinicians, and especially stigma.

I suspect many of us have personal experiences with behavioral health needs – either personally or through a family member or close friend. Each of us understands firsthand how difficult it can be to find accessible care when we need it. By understanding every factor that impacts our mental health, we’re better equipped to find and receive care that will have lasting results.

How we’re supporting whole person health in our communities

Within our communities, we’re working to Normalize the Conversation around mental health in Arkansas by providing online educational resources to help spark conversation and eliminate stigma surrounding mental health. Additionally, we’re partnering with organizations like UAMS Health to provide accessible mental health care to all Arkansans regardless of insurance status via AR ConnectNow. To encourage physical activity, our yearly Blue and You Fitness Challenge helps members to stay in shape and infuse new energy into their routines.

We remain committed to improving the whole person health and well-being of our communities. By equally prioritizing our physical and mental health, we can take good care of ourselves, our loved ones, and our state.

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