Balance

 Balance is a personalized behavioral health program
committed to delivering convenient, accessible resources when you need them.

ABOUT BALANCE
THE IMPORTANCE OF MENTAL HEALTH
OUR APPROACH
SUPPORT OPTIONS

 

 

Behavioral Health Topics and Tips

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The Johns Hopkins Advantage

For 130 years, Johns Hopkins Hospital has led the way in both biomedical discovery and health care, establishing the standard by which others follow and build upon. This is one of many faculty-developed programs, protocols and services provided by Johns Hopkins HealthCare Solutions to improve health outcomes and reduce the cost of care.  At Johns Hopkins, we know it takes a team to provide great care.

APPROACH AND FACULTY

About Balance

 

Using Balance is easy: all you have to do is take a short, confidential survey about your personal history and what you’re going through right now. You’ll get to see your results immediately on your private dashboard. Based on your results, we’ll connect you to one of our Care Concierges, who can provide immediate support and connect you to an in-network specialist if you need one. Or, if it’s your adolescent child who needs help, our Care Concierges can work with both of you to get them the support they need, quickly and conveniently.

Balance was developed in collaboration with clinical experts at Johns Hopkins. It’s a personalized behavioral health program supported by licensed behavioral health specialists. We take the guesswork out of mental health care to help you understand how you’re feeling and easily connect you to the specific type of support that works best for you.

 

THE IMPORTANCE OF MENTAL HEALTH

The Balance program provides resources and information on a variety of behavioral health topics including:

  • Effects of stress
  • When is it depression?
  • How to get a good night’s sleep
  • Relaxation exercises
  • How to boost your mood with exercise

The Importance of Mental Health

Managing your mental health is just as important as maintaining your physical well-being, but it can be a lot more challenging. You might feel uncomfortable bringing up the subject, unsure where to even begin, or maybe you just don’t have the time to take care of yourself.

And if you have adolescent children who are facing their own mental health struggles, you probably already know just how difficult it can be to find the right kind of support, when they need it. Balance can help you, and your children, every step of the way.

OUR APPROACH

Our Approach to Mental Health

Balance was developed by Johns Hopkins experts in Psychology and Psychiatry. The very foundation of Balance — understanding the individual through multiple lenses to treat the whole person – is based on the Johns Hopkins Perspectives approach.

Medical Directors

Matthew E. Peters, MD is an assistant professor at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. He holds dual appointments in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and Department of Neurology. He completed his medical school training, psychiatry residency, and neuropsychiatry fellowship at Johns Hopkins before joining the faculty.

Dr. Peters is an avid program builder, seeking to create sustainable, scalable, high quality mental health solutions that are technology-driven. To this end, he is medical director of the Balance program, which offers employer-based mental wellness solutions. Additionally, he is the medical director of Telepsychiatry and Telebehavioral Health Programs at Johns Hopkins, overseeing more than a dozen clinical, research, and educational programs that utilize telemedicine. Dr. Peters is the chief medical officer of Rose (askrose.com), a technology-driven mental health solution that augments in-person mental health care utilizing a patient-facing mobile application and clinician-facing dashboard. Lastly, he is co-founder of the psychiatry entrepreneurship task force at Johns Hopkins, which seeks to promote the entrepreneurial pursuits of faculty within the psychiatry department.

 

Dr. Paul Kim, MD PhD is an assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. He received his medical and doctoral degrees from JHU SOM and completed his psychiatry residency at the Johns Hopkins Hospital. He currently serves as an attending physician on the Young Adult Inpatient Service, medical director of the Johns Hopkins Esketamine Clinic, and co-medical director of the Balance program. As a clinician-scientist, he studies the role of neuroinflammation in neurological and psychiatric disorders. In addition to serving as medical director for Balance, he is also a managing editor of the Johns Hopkins POC-IT Psychiatry Guide.

 

SUPPORT OPTIONS

Comprehensive Support Options

Once you complete the initial survey, you’ll be given a variety of next steps to choose from, and the freedom to decide how you want to manage your well-being. Whether it’s access to educational videos, starting a virtual mental health chat, having a conversation with a Balance program-trained Care Concierge or getting connected to an in-network doctor or other specialist, we’ve got you covered so you can get the support you need on your own terms and in your own time.

Bea, Your Digital Assistant

As soon as you complete your Balance survey, our digital assistant, Bea, is available to provide emotional support and check-ins to boost your mental health and well-being. Bea is available 24/7 to connect via text message at your convenience, whenever and wherever you need.

Bea is trained in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy principles and provides unique resources based on your Balance survey results. You can chat with Bea about sensitive topics and receive unbiased emotional support in the moment when you need it most. Bea provides unique resources based on your individual Balance survey results.

Bea is intuitive, confidential, accessible and secure. And Bea is ready whenever you are.

Care Concierge

If your survey results show that you are higher risk in at least one area, a Care Concierge will contact you via the Care Pathways portal to schedule an appointment. The Care Concierge is a licensed behavioral health care professional available to connect by phone or video appointment.

The Care Concierge will work with you to:

  • Review your Balance survey results
  • Identify your mental health needs and well-being goals
  • Create an action plan with you to build coping and resiliency skills
  • Connect you to in-network resources and mental health professionals
  • Follow up to ensure you receive the care and connections you needed

This service is confidential and follows the terms of the Johns Hopkins privacy statement. When speaking to a Care Concierge, your personal conversations and individual data collected are not shared with your employer.

 

Personalized Educational Content

Balance also provides personalized educational content:

  • Personalized tips and resources based on your Balance survey results
  • Context-specific resources for parents and caregivers as well as for adolescents
  • You can choose to read, watch or listen to tips

 

Clicks on the topics below to learn more about these topics.

EFFECTS OF STRESS
WHEN IS IT DEPRESSION?
GET A GOOD NIGHT’S SLEEP
RELAXATION EXERCISE
BOOST YOUR MOOD

The Effects of Stress

Everyone experiences stress in daily life.  And, the very real effects of stress impact our overall health and wellness in a number of ways that can affect every system of our bodies—from the heart and cardiovascular system to the digestive system.  Stress can negatively affect sleep, our moods, and even interfere with relationships and our jobs.

Symptoms of stress include a wide range of physical issues, everything from headaches, heartburn and insomnia to increased colds and infections.  And while it’s important to remember that everyone experiences stress as part of life, it’s also important to know that help in dealing with stress is available.

Tips for Managing Stress

While we can’t always avoid stress in our lives, we can learn to bring those stresses under control. Here are a few tips to help get you started:

  • Take direct action to solve the problem. First, identify the problem, then consider possible solutions and evaluate the pros and cons of each. This will help you determine the best course of action.
  • Get regular exercise. In general, moderate levels of physical activity help relieve stress—aim for 30 minutes a day of moderate-intensity exercise (such as brisk walking) at least 5 days a week.
  • Get enough sleep. When stressed, some people have trouble sleeping.
    Remember that exercise during the day can help with insomnia. Making a list may also help, or try writing down your thoughts about what’s troubling you early in the evening, then keep activities prior to bedtime restful and relaxing.
  • Practice relaxation techniques. These include such things as deep breathing, meditation, and listening to soft, soothing music. Experiment with these and find what’s best for you.
  • Make time for fun. Sports, hobbies, and socializing offer ways to unwind. Try something new and see which activities appeal to you most.
WHEN IS IT DEPRESSION?

When is it Depression?

Everyone has their ups and downs in life. That’s only natural. But clinical depression is different from the occasional bout of feeling down. If you are clinically depressed, your sadness will be profound for weeks at a time, almost without relief.

Here are a few questions that can help you tell if this is truly depression:

  • Do you feel deeply sad or hopeless most of the day?
  • Are you much less interested in things that used to interest you?
  • Do you have trouble paying attention or concentrating?
  • Do you feel guilty and bad about yourself?
  • Do you think you’d be better off dead?
  • Do you think about hurting or killing yourself?

If you answered yes to more than one of these questions, or if you answered yes to the last two, you should talk to your doctor as soon as possible about how you are feeling.

Depression can be treated with medication and psychological counseling. Even some lifestyle changes, such as diet and exercise, can help. And while it’s important to know that depression can be a serious disease, it’s also good to know that help is available.

GET A GOOD NIGHT’S SLEEP

Nine Ways to Get a Good Night’s Sleep

If your sleep is disturbed more than three times a week, and the trouble has gone on for at least a month, discuss it with your doctor; he or she might recommend a sleep specialist. If, however, your sleep problems are not too severe, or are the result of poor sleep habits, read on.

1. Make your bedroom a haven.
Is your mattress as soft or as firm as you like? Are your bedclothes comfortable? Temperature and humidity OK? Is the room quiet and dark enough for you? (Wear earplugs or a mask if need be.)

2. Come up with a bedtime routine.
Go to bed at about the same time every night, and follow the same routine so your body will know you’re ready to bed down. Dim the lights, drink a cup of herbal tea—or take a bath, read or listen to music to smooth the way from wakefulness to sleepiness.

3. Get up at around the same time each morning, weekends too.
Such constancy will reinforce your biological clock’s sleep-wake cycle.  Use your bed for sleeping. Move the TV (computer, tablet or smartphone) out of the bedroom; also don’t read, talk on the phone, or snack in bed.

4. Don’t lie in bed and stare at the ceiling.
If you can’t fall asleep after a while, or if you wake up in the middle of the night, get up and read, listen to music or do some deep breathing to encourage sleep. (But do not exercise!)

5. Eliminate daytime naps.
Some people get quite drowsy in the afternoons and doze off for a while. But if they do take a nap, they may have trouble sleeping that night—and so the following day, they’ll have to take another nap to make up for the previous night’s lost sleep.

6. Exercise regularly.
Exercising in the daytime can help you feel tired and relaxed in the evening. If you’re not already exercising, ask your doctor to help you devise a workout. Avoid exercising within three hours of bedtime, since vigorous activity at that time can drive away sleep.

7. Avoid caffeine, nicotine and alcohol.
All three of these drugs can cause poor-quality sleep, particularly if consumed late in the day. Smokers often experience troublesome withdrawal symptoms while trying to sleep; caffeine stays in the body for many hours before it can be eliminated; and alcohol is actually a stimulant that can also disrupt sleep.

8. If your partner snores loudly or thrashes around while asleep . . .
either move to a different room or ask him or her to see a doctor. Snoring can often be due to some treatable medical condition like a sinus blockage, thyroid imbalance, sleep apnea or obesity. Jerking and thrashing may be due to restless leg syndrome.

9. Use sleeping pills only as a last—and temporary—resort.
In certain circumstances, hypnotic medications may be useful for sleeplessness but they’re not a replacement for good sleep habits. If your insomnia has gotten to the point where sleeping pills are sounding like a good solution, talk with your doctor.

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RELAXATION EXERCISE

Relaxation Exercise: Deep Breathing

This technique can result in both better emotional and physical health.

  • Lie on your back to help shift your breathing to a deeper, abdominal breath.
  • Put your hands on your belly and take a deep breath through your mouth or nose. Each time you breathe in, try to push your belly out as much as possible—feel your hands rise as the belly rises. (As opposed to the popular notion that when you take a deep breath you suck in your gut.)
  • Hold that breath for a few seconds and then slowly exhale through your mouth. Try to imagine you’re exhaling through a straw.
  • After that deep breath, take three or four normal breaths.
  • Then take another deep breath.
  • Continue this for 5 to 10 minutes.

At least while you’re still learning, try to practice this form of relaxation during an already quiet time when you’re least stressed.

To learn more about relaxation and meditation, visit the National Institutes of Health website: http://nccam.nih.gov/health/meditation/overview.htm.

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BOOST YOUR MOOD

Boosting Your Mood with Exercise

  • Regular exercise has effects that can boost mood, relieve depression and stress, and increase your self-esteem.
  • Repetitive movements like those used in walking, running, swimming, or cycling increase production of serotonin (the chemical in the brain whose decline is linked to depression). You don’t have to be a marathon runner…all you need is a regular program of aerobic exercise.
  • Regular exercise is an effective way to decrease blood levels of stress hormones such as cortisol. High levels of these hormones have been linked to depression and anxiety symptoms.
  • Intense exercise triggers endorphins—“runners high” comes from the release of endorphins, which produces a sense of well-being and suppresses sensations of pain. Endorphin production usually begins about 15 to 20 minutes into an exercise session, and tends to peak after about 45 minutes.
RESOURCES

Additional Resources

Center for Workplace Mental Health
http://workplacementalhealth.org/

National Institute of Mental Health
https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/find-help/index.shtml

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)
http://www.nami.org/

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
https://findtreatment.samhsa.gov/

Mental Health.gov
https://www.mentalhealth.gov/

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

National Council for Behavioral Health
https://www.thenationalcouncil.org/

Veterans & Families – Mental Health Resources
https://www.mentalhealth.va.gov/

National Institutes of Health (NIH)
National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH)
https://nccih.nih.gov/health/stress