Mental Health/Social Work
Health & Wellness
UNC Cystic Fibrosis Clinic recognizes that health and wellness includes the benefits of good physical, psychological, and financial health. Living with CF, however, can be challenging in all three of these important aspects of life. Knowing the resources that are available to you is a critical first step. Your Adult CF Social Worker can provide guidance as your navigate your health insurance coverage, make tough decisions about school or the next steps in your career, and can also provide expertise in identifying and treating problems with emotional challenges such as depression or anxiety.
To reach Krista Wendel, MSW, LCSW, or Amy Nester, MSW, Adult CF Center Social Workers and Mental Health Coordinators, email email@example.com or Amy.Nester@unchealth.unc.edu.
Depression & Anxiety
It is common for those living with chronic illness to experience depression or anxiety. In one study, the rates of patients living with CF and parent caregivers in the United States and Europe were 2-4 times higher than in the general population. Some may read this and think, “isn’t being sad or down just a normal part of being human?” Yes. It is normal to experience a full range of emotions including sadness, anger, or joy. However, some emotions, like sadness, can become more than a normative response.
Here is how to tell the difference between depression and normal blues or sadness:
– Depressed mood lasts for at least two weeks or more for most of the days, more time
than not in the day
– It is associated with decreased interests, motivation, and enjoyment (for example, you
don’t want to do things that usually bring you pleasure; you have been isolating)
– It is associated with changes in your bodily functions: sleep, appetite, energy
– It is associated with decreased concentration and ability to make decisions
– It is associated with increased thoughts about death
– It affects your functioning: decreases your ability to take care of yourself and
your health, has a negative impact on your relationships, school, work and/or hobbies
For those living with chronic illness, anxiety surrounding medical interventions is very common. For patients living with cystic fibrosis, these anxiety-producing interventions can include: PFTs, throat cultures, venipuncture, PICC line placement, NG tube insertion, manipulation with the G/J tube, or physiotherapy/ nebulizer treatments, just to name a few. This can add to the anxiety of coming to the clinic appointments or staying in the hospital, and for some patients might lead to avoidance of these anxiety-producing situations and thus some essential care.
Because we know that depression and anxiety can have a direct effect on a patient’s quality of life and their ability to keep up with daily treatments or doctor’s appointments, the UNC staff started screening patients at both outpatient appointments and during a hospitalization. We hope that by doing this, we can have richer conversations with our patients about how CF is impacting your mood and resources available for support. We appreciate the honest dialogue that has been occurring and the trust that you put in your team when you disclose how CF is impacting the many facets of your life.
If you recognize that your mood and/or stress level has been impacted and are considering therapy, there are a few ways to go about finding a counselor:
- You can call the CF Center social worker to discuss further at (984)974.5128.
- If you have private insurance, you can call the Mental Health number listed on the back of your insurance card.
- If you have private insurance or Medicaid, you can browse therapist profiles on psychologytoday.com by filtering for zip code and insurance type.
- If you do not have insurance and live in North Carolina, you can call your county’s LME and be scheduled for an appointment in your local area. LME Directory: http://www.ncdhhs.gov/providers/lme-mco-directory
For many people living with CF, the financial costs of care are burdensome. Whether navigating insurance plans, affording the costs of medications and treatment, or making choices related to food, housing, and transportation, affordability is a usual question on our patients’ minds. There are many resources available that can assist in supplementing. This list is not exhaustive and resources do change frequently, so please discuss your specific circumstances with the social worker.
UNC Financial Assistance Programs:
Uninsured Discount Program
CF Foundation Compass
The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Compass is a personalized service to help you with the insurance, financial, legal and other issues you are facing.
You may be eligible to receive up $15,000 annually for assistance with medical costs related to CF. To qualify:
- You must be treated for CF
- Have insurance that covers medications,
- Your income must fall within guidelines (Household income limit is 500% of federal poverty).
To apply, call 1800.675.8416. For more information please click here and view what is covered under the Cystic Fibrosis Fund.
The purpose of the Spiritus Project is to provide various forms of direct, need-based financial assistance to adult cystic fibrosis patients in an effort to reduce stress and provide an improved quality of life. The initial focus of the Spiritus Project is to assist North Carolina-based cystic fibrosis patients.
Cystic Fibrosis Lifestyle Foundation (CFLF)
The CFLF assists in providing avenues toward healthy and active lifestyles through recreation, thereby empowering and educating people with Cystic Fibrosis on the critical psychological, social, and emotional connections between their lifestyle and their health. Apply for a recreation grant to assist with costs related to gym memberships, summer or sports camps, exercise classes, swim lessons, martial arts, etc).
The Cystic Dreams Fund
The Cystic Dreams Fund seeks to support individuals and families impacted by the huge costs cystic fibrosis can generate. These costs may include drug co-pays, medical bills, and transplant-related expenses.
North Carolina Food and Nutrition Services
Currently, you can use NC ePASS to screen for your potential eligibility and to apply for the following programs:
There are more resources available to people that are county specific. Please discuss with your CF center social worker Krista Wendel or dietician Courtney Busby for more information.