Funding to help the California Department of Education build a statewide support system and address equity gaps in mental and behavioral health services
OAKLAND, CA (September 22, 2021) – Blue Shield of California today announced a million dollar community investment to help the California Department of Education expand much needed support for youth mental and behavioral health services within the state school system .
Blue Shield donates the funds to the Californians Dedicated to Education Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the California Department of Education. This community investment is part of Blue Shield of California’s BlueSky Initiative, the nonprofit health plan’s multi-year effort to support youth mental health, and builds on existing work with the Department of State education to train educators to recognize and address mental health issues in youth. .
The California Department of Education oversees the education of 6 million young people in more than 10,000 schools with 300,000 teachers. Through this investment, Blue Shield and the state’s education leaders will increase access, awareness and advocacy for youth mental health.
Building on current efforts, this latest contribution will support:
- Design a new statewide system to help increase access to mental and behavioral health services and to help school districts expand access to prevention programs and other innovative treatment models .
- Scale youth mental health training for more educators with flexibility in training.
- Improve content such as changing programming to be more trauma-sensitive and culturally affirming, especially for BIPOC youth (black, indigenous and people of color).
- Created a statewide Medi-Cal technical assistance guide that local education agencies can use to help more families access mental and behavioral health benefits.
Since launching in 2019, Blue Shield of California’s BlueSky Initiative has worked with the California Department of Education to support similar mental health initiatives. These include the scaling up of the ministry Mental health first aid for youth program which, over the past two years, has trained nearly 3,500 educators and caring adults to identify, understand and respond to signs of mental distress in young people. In addition, BlueSky supports the launch of the Angst: Building resilience Statewide initiative, which aims to raise awareness of anxiety through the 2017 documentary âAngstâ. The film will be shown for free in schools throughout the year from October 2021.
âOur goal is to build a healthier future for all Californians, and that includes meeting the mental health needs of our state’s youth,â said Paul Markovich, president and CEO of Blue Shield of California. âWe are excited to expand our collaboration with the California Department of Education, ensuring young people have equitable access to care. Communities of color have not only faced a disproportionate impact of the pandemic on their health, but have also witnessed traumatic social injustices nationwide. These funds will help equip educators with the tools to continue to remove barriers to access and help meet the mental health needs of youth who identify as Black, Indigenous and people of color.
âI am incredibly happy and grateful for Blue Shield’s contribution as we cannot help our students academically until we consider their mental and socio-emotional needs,â Tony said. Thurmond, Superintendent of Public Education. âStudents always return to class and we continue to reconfigure and centralize supports and resources. Over time, California schools will see solid and historic levels of mental health programming, which I believe will provide essential support for students and families. Partnerships, like this one, between public and private entities, are essential to the implementation of this vision. “
Respond to an urgent need
Young Californians are facing a mental health crisis. According to a UCLA Health Policy Research Center 2019 Study, nearly half of California teens have recently struggled with mental health issues – with almost a third reporting severe psychological distress that could interfere with academic and social functioning. In addition, the California Children’s Report Card 2020 cites that mental illness is the number one reason young Californians are hospitalized.
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has made this year’s return to school particularly stressful for young people and their families. According to a recent Blue Shield of California BlueSky survey, three in four young Californians are worried about catching COVID in school, eight in 10 are worried about school success and six in 10 are worried about socializing with their friends .
“Statewide, young people are grappling with an unprecedented number of stressors,” said David Bond, LCSW, director of behavioral health for Blue Shield. âWhen educators are trained to identify the signs of mental distress in their students, they can create an encouraging environment that fosters healthy dialogue. ”
According to the Blue Shield of California BlueSky poll, 20% of teens polled have discussed their mental health with a teacher in the past year. However, BIPOC teens were less likely (13%) to contact an educator than their white classmates (29%), highlighting the critical need to build the capacity of school-based professionals to engage with students in a meaningful way. culturally appropriate and equitable.
âWith Blue Shield’s investment, the California Department of Education is positioned to be a key partner as we build capacity within schools to reduce stigma and increase access for families and youth, especially of BIPOC communities, to engage in mental health services. Said Dr. Daniel Lee, Deputy State Superintendent. âBlue Shield has positioned the state’s Department of Education to build the infrastructure necessary to leverage the state’s current investment in mental health into an opportunity for lasting change that provides all students with a access to healthy school environments and positive learning communities, with the ultimate goal of improving student outcomes.
For more information on the Blue Shield of California BlueSky program and resources for youth, parents and educators, please visit: blueshieldca.com/bluesky
About Blue Shield of California
Blue Shield of California strives to create a health care system worthy of family and friends that is sustainably affordable. Blue Shield of California is an independent, tax-paying nonprofit member of the Blue Shield Association with over 4.5 million members, over 7,500 employees, and over $ 21 billion in annual revenues. Founded in 1939 in San Francisco and now based in Oakland, Blue Shield of California and its affiliates offer health, dental, ophthalmic, Medicaid and Medicare service plans in California. The company has donated more than $ 150 million to the Blue Shield of California Foundation over the past four years to impact California communities.
For more information on Blue Shield of California, please visit news.blueshieldca.com.