Tag Archive for: Mental Health

How Financial Stress Can Impact Mental Health — and Steps to Achieve Peace of Mind

By Michael Forney
Investment Advisor and Financial Wellness Specialist
Newfront Retirement Services, which partners with ALLtech to offer the EVOLVE 401(k)

Half of Americans say they are stressed by finances [1]. And more than three-fourths of Americans have experienced health impacts due to stress [2]. It’s no secret that one of the leading causes of anxiety is personal finance. Money may not be the root of all evil, but it does cause its fair share of tension. May is Mental Health Awareness month, and we’re exploring how mental health and financial wellness are intertwined — and sharing some steps you can take to alleviate financial stressors.

It can be intimidating at times to think about or attempt to manage our finances. Sometimes it seems like the bills keep piling up with no end in sight. At other times, our bank account just seems to get smaller and smaller, and we aren’t sure of a way forward. The stats are telling:

  • 73% of Americans in debt are stressed about money, and one in 20 are fearful they will be unable to pay their debt off, ever! [1]
  • 76% of Americans experienced health impacts due to stress [2]
  • 27% report being so stressed they cannot function most days [2]

Some fairly common “bad money habits” often lead to more stress, anxiety, and fear around money, such as:

  • Not opening bills and telling yourself you’ll deal with it later
  • Ignoring one’s bank account in order to avoid the anxiety it causes
  • Avoiding student loan payments and letting debt get out of hand
  • Racking up credit card debt (i.e., impulse buying to satisfy a void)
  • Avoiding investing for the future because of fear of market volatility

If you thought these were just your bad habits, think again. Almost everyone has fallen into one of these traps at some point. Almost all of us are dealing with some form of financial anxiety.

With that said, let’s get to the good news.

The fact is that, with some intentionality, mindfulness, and education, you might find yourself more aware, in control, and less stressed about that next bill coming due.

Let’s start with intentionality.

One practical step to managing your finances with greater intentionality is to create a budget. If you create a budget and stick to it, you are more likely to sleep peacefully at night. How many of us walk away from a purchase we can’t afford and then end up patting ourselves on the back later because of how good it feels? If you don’t know where to start, consider utilizing free budgeting resources like mint.com or creating a spreadsheet and tracking all or your income and expenses. If you want to pay for something more technically robust, consider a platform like You Need A Budget, Quickbooks, or Quicken. Any one of these can help you increase awareness and guide you in future decision-making.

Next is mindfulness. Consider starting a gratitude practice and making decisions from a place of contentment. Mindfulness is a way to keep one’s focus on the present moment, and often includes practices like meditation and yoga. But you don’t have to become a yogi to be mindful. You only need to keep your attention on the present. By being aware of our thoughts and emotions, we can avoid being overcome by them and can even manage them more effectively. One important thing to be aware of is what we do have in life, not what we’re missing. It is easy to pile up negative thoughts particularly as relates to personal finances. But we shouldn’t forget that very often our basic needs are met, and we have a number of things to be grateful for. Take some time to consider what your values are and identify whether you already have what you’re seeking in life. You might find yourself in a completely different state of mental health, which could aid in your financial decision-making.

Lastly is education. Many of us did not learn about finances growing up (at least in the formal education system). So, we’re left to rely on ourselves, family and friends to put the pieces together. If you feel under informed when making financial decisions, you’re certainly not alone. And knowing that may be enough to ease some of the anxiety. To help, consider free resources like Nerdwallet, Investopedia, or Fidelity. Each has great tips on saving, investing, and how to budget. You could also check out my other blogs discussing financial wellness:

Additionally, consider working with a professional like a CFP® to help guide your decision making. CFPs are fiduciaries who provide holistic advice on the full scope of your finances and provide cash flow analysis to help you identify areas of opportunity. You can go to letsmakeaplan.org to find a CFP in your local area. Understand that not all advisors have investment minimums, and you can work with an advisor of your preference.

As you can see, mental health and financial wellness are intimately related. Americans in general are stressed about their finances and this is having an adverse impact on overall wellness. But with practical steps like intentionalitymindfulness, and education, there is a path forward that can help us decrease stress and increase our mental well-being.

To learn more about the EVOLVE 401(k) available through ALLtech, visit ALLtechbenefits.org/401k-program or email ALLtech@advprofessionals.com.


Newfront Retirement Services, Inc. is an investment adviser registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Registration as an investment adviser does not imply any level of skill or training, and does not constitute an endorsement by the SEC. For a copy of Newfront Retirement Services disclosure brochure, which includes a description of the firm’s services and fees, please access www.investor.gov or click here for website disclosures.

Head Outdoors for Your Mental Health in May

Spending time in nature is linked to many positive mental health outcomes – improved focus, lower stress, better mood, and reduced risk of developing a mental health condition. During Mental Health Month this May, ALLtech Benefits encourages you to take advantage of the healing power of nature by heading outdoors.

Green Space Abounds

You don’t need a picture-perfect outdoor experience to get the benefits of nature. Even being in the presence of indoor plants is worthwhile – studies have found this to improve focus, memory and stress tolerance.

  • Take a walk in the park. While being in the wilderness is especially nice, even city parks, a small garden, or sitting under a tree can support your mental health.
  • Bring the outdoors in. Adding greenery to your space can have a similar effect to seeing plants outdoors – and some, like snake plants and bamboo palms, can purify your air.

Seek Natural Light

Sunlight triggers the release of serotonin and vitamin D, which are associated with boosting mood and focus and reducing stress. Without enough sun, these levels can drop, leading to symptoms of depression, anxiety and other mental health challenges. Light exposure also has a direct impact on your body’s sleep-wake cycle, and consistent sleep is one of the most important factors in your well-being.

  • Enjoy the sunshine. Getting 10 to 15 minutes of sun on your arms and legs a few times a week allows your body to generate all the vitamin D you need.
  • Try a light box. Light therapy can help with symptoms of depression and sleep disorders. The bright light from a light box mimics natural sunlight, causing the brain to produce serotonin and regulate your internal clock.

More Wellness Resources

Dedicated to improving the wellness of the tech community, ALLtech’s diverse plan designs feature virtual care resources that are focused on mental health, including 24/7 virtual care through MDLIVE that includes confidential, convenient online therapy at $0 co-pay on most plans.

ALLtech also partners with Seattle-based nonprofit Wellspring EAP to offer an employee assistance plan (EAP) that includes one-on-one meetings with a counselor and an extensive online platform, featuring stress-reduction webinars and videos, legal and financial resources and more.

To learn more, fill out our Request a Quote form or call 206.602.3558. For more Mental Health Month resources, visit Mental Health America.

Seeking More Joy in Your Life? Tap into the Power of Purpose

Research has demonstrated that there are many benefits to living life with a sense of meaning and purpose. People who maintain connection to the meaningfulness and purpose of what they are doing tend to be healthy, wealthy and wise, not to mention happy.  Whether you find purpose in relationships, your faith or philosophy, your work and play in the world, or experience life as personally meaningful, this has a significant impact on your well-being.

This is especially important during difficult times when stress and the weight of responsibility is heavy. Our daily routine uses so much of our energy, it can be easy for our sense of purpose to fade into the background. With some intention, difficult times can actually serve to strengthen, clarify, or shape our sense of purpose, and our connection with purpose can be a vital source that sustains and guides us through challenging circumstances.

Learn how to Tap into the Power of Purpose at noon Tuesday, March 28, 2023, from Wellspring EAP, the employee assistance plan offered through ALLtech. During this webinar, you will have the chance to:

  1. Identify what is most meaningful in your life
  2. Clarify your sense of purpose
  3. Develop practical and concrete strategies to tether you to the purpose in your daily life

ALLtech partners with Wellspring EAP to offer an employee assistance plan (EAP) that features up to three in-person meetings with a counselor, along with diverse online resources. To learn more, view our Wellspring EAP summary of benefits.

Join Wellspring EAP Webinar on Grieving a Lost World: When Assumptions Change Overnight

As we begin the fourth year of a global pandemic along with associated lockdowns, closures, and supply chain disruptions, many of us have experienced unpredictable changes – sometimes overnight. Many of us are finding our long-held and often invisible assumptions shaken or proven untrue. Looking at what we have lost and what has changed – and, if necessary, grieving – can be a powerful step in moving forward in our new reality despite the knowledge that things will continue to change further.

ALLtech partners with Wellspring EAP to offer an employee assistance plan (EAP) that features up to three in-person meetings with a counselor, along with diverse online resources that include a monthly live webinar that allows for a deeper connection in our increasingly virtual world.

Please consider joining ALLtech for Wellspring’s featured webinar on Grieving a Lost World: When Assumptions Change Overnight, from 11 a.m. to noon Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2023. During this webinar, you will have the chance to:

  • Gain a deeper understanding of the impact of unpredictability and uncertainty
  • Understand the role grief plays and how to manage it effectively
  • Explore assumptions we held and how we are impacted when reality is not how we assumed it would be
  • Adopt strategies for moving forward with a new normal that may not match our expectations

January On-Demand Webinar Focuses on Sleep Health

Additional featured Wellspring resources for January include the on-demand webinar Caring for Yourself Through Winter: Maintaining Your Sleep and Energy.

People often experience sleep changes when the nights become longer and the days darker. This is due to a combination of factors – less daytime light, decreased exercise, changes in eating habits, and even holiday events have an impact. Join Dr. Catherine Darley to explore how these factors impact both our sleep and daytime energy, then discuss strategies to keep sleeping well, and keep our energy up throughout the season until the brighter days of spring.

Register here to view the webinar on-demand.

To learn more about the diverse benefits EAP available to ALLtech members, view our Wellspring EAP summary of benefits.

988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline Launches

From ALLtech medical provider Regence BlueShield

A new emergency three-digit dialing code launched today, July 16, 2022, to address the pressing need for additional mental health support for individuals in crisis throughout the United States. In 2020, Congress worked with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to create a new 988 dialing code as America’s suicide prevention and mental health crisis lifeline.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 480,622 lives were lost to suicide between 2010 and 2020. This includes a steep increase in suicide deaths among Black people (43% increase), American Indian or Alaska Native (41% increase), Hispanic or Latino (27% increase) and individuals located in rural areas (23% increase). Demand for mental health crisis lines continues to far exceed capacity, and the launch of 988 is a crucial tool. Given the most recent data from SAMHSA, calls to the new 988 line are expected to increase two-fold from 3.3 million in 2020 to 7.6 million by the end of July 2023.

The three-digit dialing code will help strengthen crisis response systems for everyone. People who call, text or chat 988 are connected to trained counselors as part of the existing National Suicide Prevention Lifeline network. 988 provides an easy-to-remember way to reach out for help, directly connecting anyone struggling with emotional distress or those at risk of suicide with quality, accessible care and support. The new lifeline strengthens collaborative care, linking those in crisis to a wide range of community-based behavioral health care, from crisis response to early intervention and prevention services.

988 is confidential, free and available 24 hours a day year-round, offering call services in English and Spanish along with interpretation services in over 150 languages.

Supporting nonprofit partners and our behavioral health workforce

Access to mental health services is a critical community need and 988 helps strengthen and expand a whole-person health approach. Regence’s corporate foundation has invested over $300,000 in six nonprofit organizations that are part of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline system to support, expand, diversify and train our region’s behavioral health workforce.

Organizations that received funding in Washington state include:

“Our goal is to expand access to behavioral health services to advance whole-person health in underserved communities,” says Peggy Maguire, president of Regence’s corporate foundation. “We are honored to partner with organizations responsible for implementing 988 in our region, and to support the behavioral health workforce who will provide critical services to people living in our community.”

ALLtech members can access a spectrum of behavioral health resources

Whether you need occasional emotional support or ongoing mental health care, Regence has a variety of programs to prevent, identify and treat mental health and substance use disorders. ALLtech members enrolled in Regence or Asuris Northwest Health who want to understand what is available under their health plan can sign in to their account on regence.com.

Telehealth for Behavioral Health Care is Used More Than Ever Before

From ALLtech medical provider Regence

The U.S. health care system has experienced a rapid increase in the use of telehealth over the past two years for both mental and physical health. While telehealth existed before the COVID-19 public health emergency, it only represented a less than 1% of outpatient visits. At the peak of the pandemic, telehealth use jumped to 40% for mental health and substance use outpatient visits, and 11% for physical health visits. At Regence, we saw telehealth visits increase eight times for behavioral health care from 2019 to 2021. Today telehealth visits for mental health and substance use continue to rise, meanwhile telehealth visits for physical health have declined after in-person options resumed.

Many experts believe telehealth’s popularity will continue. Telehealth has been especially helpful in meeting patient needs for behavioral health care, including improved access to care. In fact, studies have shown telehealth therapy to be as effective as in-person care for treating various mental health conditions like moderate depression and anxiety. Given the popularity and benefits of telehealth, it’s important to understand what it is and how best to use this care option.

Understanding telehealth for behavioral health care needs

Behavioral health telehealth care services can be provided by a licensed therapist or counselor by phone, video calls and text messages. Since there is no need to travel to a specific location for a telehealth visit, treatment can occur wherever is most convenient, like the comfort of home. This is helpful for people who have mobility issues and leaving home is difficult, creating a barrier to receiving care.

Also, when you can do a virtual appointment from wherever you are, it’s often easier to schedule times. Telehealth has been exceptionally helpful in rural areas where there are few mental health practices in the area and driving long distances for care is a big burden. In 2021, 55% of rural mental health and substance use outpatient visits were delivered by telehealth compared to 35% in urban areas. Telehealth may also be a little more approachable for some who are new to seeking care because it is only a few clicks away rather than traveling to an appointment.

Although telehealth brings many advantages, it might not be for every person and need. Sometimes in-person therapy visits are more advantageous than telehealth. Telehealth isn’t the right choice for people experiencing severe or complex symptoms of mental health or substance use conditions that require close and direct care. Providers and patients may find it harder to pick up on body signals, facial expressions and other real-life signals. Using technology also isn’t for everyone and can create frustration or make the care experience less comfortable. Ultimately, some people and situations may benefit more from in-person therapy.

ALLtech members can access a spectrum of behavioral health resources

Whether you need occasional emotional support or ongoing mental health care, ALLtech offers a variety of programs to prevent, identify and treat mental health and substance use disorders. Members enrolled in medical through Regence can visit virtually with a counselor or psychiatrist 24/7 through MDLIVE. Download MDLIVE Behavioral Health flyer.

ALLtech members also have access to counseling through Wellspring EAP, which includes the option to access virtual behavioral health counseling through BetterHelp.

To learn more about options available to ALLtech members, visit the ALLtech Wellness Resources page or sign in to your Regence account at regence.com.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month

From ALLtech medical provider Regence

Mental health is as important as our physical health. In fact, people with depression have a 40% higher risk of developing more chronic physical conditions like cardiovascular and metabolic diseases. With 1 in 5 people in the United States experiencing a mental illness in a given year, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Regence recognizes it’s an essential part of health care.

Regence is proud to recognize Mental Health Awareness Month in May and the importance of bringing light to mental health, breaking down stigma and improving the well-being of our communities.

This year we are focused on improving access to behavioral health for our members to find the right care when they need it. To help our members find the right care, we continue to train our customer service professionals in Mental Health First Aid, a globally recognized certification, to better support our members and help them understand and access their mental health benefits.

Whether you need occasional emotional support or ongoing mental health care, Regence has a variety of programs to prevent, identify and treat mental health and substance use disorders. Regence members who want to understand what is available under their health plan can sign in to their account on regence.com, or call us for help finding the right behavioral health resources.

Join Regence in bringing light to mental health

During Mental Health Awareness Month and year-round, remember that it’s OK to ask for help. Throughout the month, our experts will share tips for connecting to mental health resources, addressing the stigma associated with seeking care and much more.

Watch our blog and social channels to learn how you can improve your well-being and connect to resources and support.

In the video above, Regence Executive Medical Director Dr. Jim Polo speaks to the importance of raising awareness during Mental Health Awareness Month and asking for help when you needed it.

Wellspring EAP Offers Back-to-School Resources for ALLtech Members

Another school year has begun and many of us are still holding uncertainty, anxiety, and fear for our children (or the children in our lives) and for our families.

While there is much outside of our control, there are things we can do, and strategies or approaches we can embrace to help support our well-being and the well-being of our families.

Wellspring EAP, which provides the employee assistance program for ALLtech members, is offering two webinars in October to help families and individuals cope with the continuing uncertainty.

On October 7, 2021, ALLtech members are invited to join Wellspring EAP and Emily Cherkin, MA, Ed, for the webinar Parent and Family Mental Wellbeing in a Still-COVID, Still-uncertain School Year, from noon to 1 p.m.

Emily Cherkin, MA Ed, is an internationally recognized consultant who has worked with families and schools over the last fifteen years. In addition to navigating the challenges of parenting in a distracted digital age, Emily also facilitates parent workshops, professional development training, and school presentations that take a “tech-intentional” approach. Emily is also mom to 13-year-old Max and 9-year-old Sylvie, who present daily thrills and challenges. Emily holds a Master’s Degree in Education (with a focus on Conflict Resolution and Peaceable Schools) from Lesley University in Cambridge, MA. She has taught Middle School Humanities, English, and a curriculum based on screentime, media literacy, and bullying for ten years at Seattle Academy of Arts and Sciences (SAAS). She has also worked as an academic coach for children and adults with executive function challenges, including ADHD. Emily has appeared in the New York Times, on Good Morning America, and on The Today Show (twice!). She is also working on a book about parenting and screentime.

Also in October, Wellspring EAP is offering the webinar Understanding Suicide: A Learning Conversation, which will explore questions such as: What makes someone at risk of suicide? How has COVID-19 impacted mental and emotional wellbeing? What kind of support is proven to help reduce risk? What are some good resources I can turn to help support myself or someone in my family or community?

The webinar from noon to 1 p.m. on October 13, 2021, will start with a brief learning session from Dr. Jeffrey Sung, who will then be joined by Teresa Lupinacci, LMHC, CDP from the Wellspring EAP team as they respond to attendee questions.

Jeffrey Sung, M.D. is an acting instructor with the University of Washington Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. Since 2002, his clinical responsibilities have included direct service and consultation in the care of individuals facing homelessness, medical illness, substance use and psychiatric conditions. He has taught psychodynamic theory, suicide risk assessment, and managing response to patient suicide to psychiatrists, general physicians and mental health clinicians. In addition to work with the university, Dr. Sung also maintains a private practice.

Teresa Lupinacci, LMHC, CDP is the Clinical Manager for Wellspring EAP, and has worked in Employee Assistance Programs for 19 years. She started her career working in the substance abuse treatment field and local school districts, upon finishing her graduate degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Bastyr University, she was the treatment director of a dual diagnosis treatment program, then opened a private practice. She also has training in Critical Incident Stress Debriefing, Mental Health First Aid, Substance Abuse Prevention and Intervention, DOT reasonable suspicion for substance use, and Motivational Interviewing. Teresa is the President for the Pacific Northwest chapter of Employee Assistance Professionals Association.

ALLtech Offers Resources for BIPOC Mental Health Awareness Month

In honor of BIPOC Mental Health Awareness Month this July, ALLtech is offering valuable resources to members with access to the employee assistance program through Wellspring EAP. Login at wellspringeap.org to access a curated list of resources specific to Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) mental health awareness, or click the below links to attend unique live webinars and restorative micro-sessions.

These live events will be available on-demand 24 to 48 hours after the live session.

Webinar: BIPOC Mental Health Awareness

Wednesday, July 28, 2021
1:00 PM – 2:00 PM (PST)
Register to Attend

Explore how anxiety, depression, stress, and trauma impact the BIPOC community in this webinar and learning conversation.

Facilitated by Sauntia Griffin, LSWAIC, MSW, M.Ed., an educator and mental health therapist, you’ll learn about common emotional and physiological experiences, and strategies and coping tools to implement for self-care.

This session will best support those who self-identify as Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC), allies, and those who would like to deepen their understanding.

Live Guided Restorative Micro-Sessions

Click on the title to attend these 15-minute guided restorative micro-sessions:

About Wellspring’s Trainers

  • Sauntia Griffin, LSWAIC, MSW, M.Ed.
    Sauntia Griffin was born and raised in the Central District of Seattle, where she lives and practices therapy with teens and adults. Sauntia operates under a critically conscious, anti-oppressive framework, her goal being to provide a space that allows individuals to work through and grow into who they want to be. Sauntia earned a Bachelor’s in Social Work, a Master’s in Education, and a Master’s in Clinical Social Work from Seattle University. She has practiced with Atlantic Street Center, Northwest Kidney Centers, as well as in private practice. She has been trained in trauma-focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, and a variety of techniques for evidence-based practice — regularly drawing from mindfulness and Gestalt approaches.
  • Summer Brown, LMFT
    Summer Brown self-identifies as a Black, Queer, Fat, Cis Woman. Summer is a Sex and Fat Positive, Social Equity Minded, Solution Focused, CBT, EMDR and Feminist Narrative therapist. She provides support for individuals throughout the lifespan, partnerships of any relationship style as well as family systems work. Summer prioritizes providing affirming, inclusive, client-directed, culturally competent care for marginalized communities (BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, and other folks who hold systemically non-dominant identities). She provides AAMFT supervision as the Clinical Director of Therapeutic Change PLLC, group practice in Vancouver, Wash. Summer has taught at the Community College and graduate school levels with a focus on self-discovery and counseling skills development.
  • Kaylee Torres, MCFT Intern
    Kayle Torres is pursuing her Master’s in Marriage, Couple, and Family Therapy at Lewis and Clark College. She identifies as a queer, Asian and Pacific Islander, neurodiverse, femme person who is temporarily able-bodied and currently exists in a mid-size body. She provides individual, family, and relational therapy to teens and adults who identify as LGBTQIA+, Gender Diverse, all ethnicities, all body sizes, types and abilities. She approaches her work from a relational and ecosystemic lens, meaning she acknowledges that we exist in relation to other people and beings, as well as the land we occupy, and our daily life is impacted by larger systems including systems of oppression. She draw from Systems Theory, Intersectional and Feminist perspectives, Emotionally Focused Therapy and Attachment Theory, Internal Family Systems and an Intergenerational framework in her therapeutic work with clients.

Live Restorative Sessions Among Resources for Mental Health Awareness Month

Throughout the pandemic, many people who had never experienced mental health challenges found themselves struggling for the first time. If you found that it impacted your mental health, you aren’t alone. In fact, of the almost half a million individuals who took the anxiety screening at MHAscreening.org, 79% showed symptoms of moderate to severe anxiety. However, there are practical tools that can help improve your mental health.

This May, as ALLtech continues to recognize Mental Health Awareness Month, we would like to highlight our robust employee assistance program through Wellspring EAP, which includes one-on-one meetings with a counselor and an extensive online platform, featuring stress-reduction webinars and videos, legal and financial resources and more.

Specifically for Mental Health Awareness Month, Wellspring is offering a series of guided restorative sessions focused on self-care and more, including the following webinar:

Understanding and Caring for Anxiety
May 26, 2021 – 12:00 PM (PST)

There has been so much going on in our collective system that has caused our bodies and brains to be on alert. Though our anxiety can often not feel great, it can also serve as a useful guide. In this hour-long webinar, you will learn how to listen to your anxiety from a somatic lens and how to make choices that honor your nervous system when you feel anxious. You’ll leave with more understanding around how the systems we live in impact our nervous systems, why anxiety can be useful, and somatic tools to help settle and listen to anxiety.

Live Guided Restorative Micro-Sessions

Click on the title to attend these 10- to 15-minute guided restorative micro-sessions: