Although most schools and the economy are open, many families are still reeling from the toll taken during the COVID-19 pandemic. Ongoing financial challenges, wildfires, political strife, and health disparities have created significant stress and trauma for Californians. Read on to learn more about how, as a nonprofit health plan, we are leaning in to support families and youth in local communities during these challenging times.
Leading with equity, our BlueSky initiative provides mental health resources for youth. This includes creating career pathways for diverse mental and behavioral health professionals who can provide culturally affirming services for members of the BIPOC community (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color).
The importance of cultural responsiveness in serving the mental health and wellness needs of BIPOC youth was also a key theme of the recent Community Alliance Connection Forum in San Diego County, hosted by Blue Shield of California Promise Health Plan and its Community Resiliency Workgroup.
Back-to-school youth survey
Nearly 90% of California counties are experiencing a shortage of mental health professionals, according to data from the Health Resources & Services Administration. As the pandemic persists, the need for parents, educators, and caring adults to support youth mental health is critical.
According to a recent Blue Shield poll, almost three in four teens (71%) are concerned about catching COVID-19 at school. Worries about academic achievement (79%) and socializing with friends (59%) are other top concerns according to the survey of California teens. One bright spot in the report is a majority of youth are discussing their mental health with others, demonstrating important help-seeking behavior.
California wildfire season started early this year and has already burned thousands of acres and hundreds of homes. To lend support, Blue Shield has donated $45,000, including $20,000 that our employees raised through their support of the American Red Cross and the El Dorado Community Foundation fundraiser for Caldor fire relief.
Last year, Blue Shield contributed $20 million to California’s Project HomeKey, an innovative public-private partnership, which acquires and rehabilitates a variety of housing types to serve people experiencing homelessness or who are at risk of serious illness from COVID-19. Blue Shield funding has helped create more than 1,100 housing units in 24 locations.
Read Thomas' story and learn more about the impact of the LifeMoves community in Mountain View, one of two dozen housing projects coming online throughout California this year through Blue Shield’s support.
As we navigate the new normal, Blue Shield employees continue to advocate for those who most need our support by participating in our employee volunteering and giving programs.
During the month of June, Blue Shield offered employees a 2:1 match for donations to all California nonprofits. In what marked the most charitable month in company history, employees donated more than $618,000 (including the company match).
Employees have also given time through virtual volunteer activities to support domestic violence survivors, humanitarian relief efforts, farmworkers, mental health awareness, and more. Employees have logged more than 23,000 hours this year to date!
Blue Shield of California Foundation’s Chief Program Director Carolyn Wang Kong was recently awarded the prestigious Terrance Keenan Leadership Award in Health Philanthropy. When presenting this lifetime achievement award, Grantmakers in Health noted that Carolyn still has a lot of achievements ahead of her. Her acceptance speech, abridged here, illuminates that promise and her commitment to be of greater service.
Blue Shield of California Foundation is an independent, nonprofit organization that is funded entirely by contributions from Blue Shield of California. The Foundation supports lasting and equitable solutions to make California the healthiest state and end domestic violence. When we work together to remove the barriers to health and well-being, especially for Californians most affected, we can create a more just and equitable future. For more information, visit: www.blueshieldcafoundation.org.