While the holidays can be a season filled with joy, this can also be a stressful and challenging time, especially as many families struggle with the financial and emotional tolls of the pandemic. For the most vulnerable in our communities, including those impacted by mental illness, these challenges can be exacerbated. This edition offers a glimpse into how, as a nonprofit health plan, Blue Shield of California supports our communities across the state to build a healthier future for all Californians year-round.
Leading with equity, our multi-year BlueSky initiative aims to increase access and awareness to support youth mental health in collaboration with the California Department of Education and other leading nonprofit organizations.
Investing in Youth Mental Health in California Schools:
California youth are facing a mental health crisis. According to a recent study, almost half of California teens have recently struggled with mental health issues – with nearly a third reporting serious distress that could interfere with academic and social functioning. Enhancing our work with the California Department of Education (CDE), we recently announced a $1 million community investment to help the California Department of Education expand much-needed support for youth mental and behavioral health services within the state’s school system.
This contribution builds on existing efforts to scale the CDE’s Youth Mental Health First Aid program, which in the last two years has trained more than 2,500 educators and caring adults to identify, understand, and respond to signs of mental distress in youth.
Promoting Conversations about Mental Health:
Additionally, we are tackling stigma head-on through our collaboration with the CDE, to make the Angst documentary, a film-based mental health support program, available to educators and students across California for the remainder of the school year. The film and program address anxiety, help develop long-term resilience, strength, and emotional well-being, and provide techniques to help youth deal with the mental health impacts of COVID-19. To register your school, please share this link with your school administrator.
Blue Shield of California Promise Health Plan and L.A. Care Health Plan recently commemorated the opening of the Community Resource Center in Wilmington. This site is the latest addition to our jointly operated Community Resource Centers, which aim to keep members and the community active, healthy, and informed. This site is also launching its own Kindness Rocks Project as part of an international initiative to cultivate connections within communities and uplift individuals through simple acts of kindness.
This fall, our Community Resource Centers, hosted a series of drive-thru/walk-up flu vaccine clinics across Los Angeles County at no cost for area residents.
Last year, Blue Shield contributed $20 million to California’s Homekey, an innovative public-private partnership, which acquires and rehabilitates a variety of housing types to serve people experiencing homelessness. Blue Shield funding has helped create more than 1,100 housing units in 24 locations.
“On the day I moved in, I was at peace. It was a true blessing. I felt like everything was falling into place in my life. I was going to start nursing school, and I had hope for new beginnings. I felt safe, and happy.”
– Jorge “JJ” Chavez, a first-year nursing student at Imperial Valley College who got housing through Blue Shield’s support of Homekey
On Giving Tuesday, Blue Shield offered its employees a 2:1 match for donations to all California nonprofits. Employees stepped up to support their communities, raising nearly a quarter of a million dollars.
More than 350 employees showed their support for youth mental health – and their own mental health – by participating in National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) California’s Virtual Walk. Employees logged thousands of miles of walking and running while raising money for NAMI California.
During October, Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Blue Shield of California Foundation announced eight grants to Bay Area organizations to interrupt childhood trauma, break the multigenerational cycle of domestic violence, and advance equity through community-driven solutions. Each of eight collaboratives will receive $600,000 over the course of three years. Blue Shield of California Foundation was a founding donor of this effort, All In For Kids, which to date has raised more than $6.5 million in seed capital.
“All In for Kids is one of this organization’s most promising initiatives, and it’s especially important at this critical time when the pandemic has made life harder and increased the trauma kids are experiencing,” said Futures Without Violence President Esta Soler. “Through this initiative, we are giving local partners the power to learn from the kids and caregivers most affected by trauma. We are confident that the lessons we learn through this work will inform and guide effective interventions well beyond northern California for years to come.”
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.