Blue Shield of California Provides More Than $1.1 Million to Youth Mental Health Programs

The donation supports youth mental health in California in honor of Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) Mental Health Month celebrated in July.

Blue Shield of California recently announced it's providing more than $1.1 million to four organizations working to support youth mental health in California in honor of Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) Mental Health Month celebrated in July. Mental illness is the number one reason children in the state are hospitalized, and half of all lifetime cases of mental illness begin by the age of 14.

According to a release from Blue Shield of California, the support is part of Blue Shield of California's BlueSky Initiative, which has provided resources and support for youth, families, educators, and caregivers to promote emotional well-being for youth since 2019. With today's announcement, BlueSky has now provided $10 million total to support youth mental health programs throughout the state.

"Our goal is to support youth by helping them develop resilience and emotional well-being to cope with life's challenges in a healthy way," said Paul Markovich, president and CEO of Blue Shield of California, in the release. "That is why we created BlueSky – to support, invest in, and work with organizations to bring the needed support for our young people throughout California."

Below are the four organizations receiving support from BlueSky.

  • DoSomething.org is the largest global organization for young people and social change. With BlueSky support, the group will survey youths to shape a new educational campaign to help students build advocacy skills and provide peer-to-peer mental health resources. The effort follows an earlier collaboration by BlueSky and DoSomething.org to create the New State of Mind Youth Mental Health Guide that includes nearly 75,000 tips from teen-agers to help their peers cope with isolation from the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Mental Health California's Brother Be Well program in Sacramento provides wellness support for boys and men of color who are 13 and older. The goals are to reduce disparities in access to mental health services, remove stigma, and improve the mental health and well-being of all program participants. The initiative also includes education for parents and caregivers.
  • Youth Power Fund is a San Francisco Bay Area-based funder collaborative that promotes the role of youth organizing for advancing justice and equity. BlueSky's assistance will support priority outcomes such as providing mental health, wellness and healing for youth and its collaborative staff, uplifting youth voices and decision-making power, and creating safe and welcoming spaces for youth.
  • Directing Change engages young people throughout California to learn about suicide prevention and mental health, and then educate their peers through creative filmmaking. For the third year in a row, BlueSky will help fund the Directing Change film contest. BlueSky's support will also help fund Directing Change grants to schools that are building student filmmaking programs focused on mental health awareness and suicide prevention. During the 2021-22 school year, Directing Change received 939 film submissions representing nearly 2,500 youth from 135 schools and community-based organizations.

"The pandemic not only shed light on, but exacerbated, a critical epidemic – the alarming decline of mental health of young people, especially those in Black and brown communities," said DeNora Getachew, CEO of DoSomething.org, in the release. "Blue Shield's gracious support will help DoSomething equip its members with the tools and resources they need to destigmatize mental health issues and address this epidemic with action."

Over the last year, BlueSky and its programs almost doubled the number of educators it trained to spot warning signs of mental health concerns in youth, conducted more than 4,000 counseling sessions, and supported cultivating a pipeline of diverse youth to work in the mental health field.

"We share a common mission with BlueSky in serving boys and men of color to improve their well-being," said Kristene Smith, CEO of Brother Be Well, in the release. "With Blue Shield's support, Brother Be Well clinicians will be able to expand their reach and normalize conversations about mental health."