A trauma-informed approach to mental health will empower youth to heal, build resilience and navigate emotional challenges with greater effectiveness and long-term well-being.
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. – Today, the BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Foundation announced it’s joining the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) in a partnership with Boys & Girls Clubs of America to combat the youth mental health crisis in the United States through trauma-informed approaches to behavioral health care. BCBSA and Blue Cross and Blue Shield (BCBS) companies nationwide are investing over $10 million over four years, which will help Boys & Girls Clubs of America implement trauma-informed practices in its more than 5,000 Clubs by 2026 to train over 48,000 staff to better support the emotional and mental well-being of over 3.6 million children.
“At BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, we know that mental health is just as important to a person’s overall wellbeing as physical health,” says Dalya Qualls White, executive director of the BlueCross Foundation. “Rising rates of mental health conditions like anxiety and depression are worrisome, especially when they occur in children. By partnering with BCBSA and Boys & Girls Clubs of America, we hope to improve behavioral health for our state’s youngest residents.”
With the support of the BlueCross Foundation and BCBSA, Boys & Girls Clubs of America will be able to incorporate trauma-informed practices in Clubs across the country by:
- Creating and implementing resources to integrate trauma-informed strategies throughout Clubs.
- Increasing staff awareness and skills through trauma-informed professional development and expanding regional trauma-informed training centers to reach staff across the country.
- Providing programming and resources that build young people’s social-emotional development skills and equip them to navigate challenging experiences.
- Increasing access to mental health services by piloting virtual therapy sessions for youth and staff.
- Evaluating Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s trauma-informed strategy to inform learnings and drive quality improvement.
“Providing physical and emotional safety for our young people is fundamental to everything we do in Boys & Girls Clubs,” said Jim Clark, Boys & Girls Clubs of America president and CEO. “We know every child and teen is better equipped to succeed when we meet them where they are to address their needs, and that includes providing access to reliable mental health resources and support. Through our partnership with the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, we’re eager to expand our trauma-informed work in Clubs and deepen their capacity to serve as safe places for youth across the nation.”
Today’s youth in Tennessee are living through a time of increasingly collective trauma with almost half of youth experiencing a mental health disorder. While the pandemic exacerbated the mental health crisis, trauma, isolation and other societal factors are increasingly impacting youth mental health at staggering rates.
New BCBSA research finds that diagnosed rates of anxiety among those 13 to 18 years of age have steadily risen between 2017 and 2021 and rates of ADHD and depression have grown roughly 50% to 60% during the same period. Black and Hispanic youth with a mental health condition are more likely to have negative outcomes compared to their white counterparts. And all youth of color, as well as youth in rural areas, are less likely to be diagnosed with mental health conditions.
“The United States has been grappling with a growing and alarming youth mental health crisis that demands a multi-faceted approach to provide kids with the tools they need to confront the challenges they face in school, at home and in their everyday lives,” said Kim Keck, BCBSA president and CEO. “Between 5,000 Clubs across the country and the Blues’ deep roots in every Zip code, together we are uniquely positioned to intervene early, get kids the help they need, and set them on the path for the future they deserve.”
To confront the ongoing youth mental health crisis in Tennessee, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee is improving access to digital care through telehealth programs like Teladoc, increasing reimbursement for psychiatrists, psychologists and therapists, and more closely aligning its behavioral health case management program with its pharmacy team to ensure members fill and take medications as instructed by their providers.
BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee is a taxpaying, not-for-profit health plan serving more than 3.4 million members in Tennessee and around the country. The Chattanooga-based company was founded in 1945 and has brought peace of mind to its members and local communities for more than 75 years. BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Inc. is an independent licensee of the BlueCross BlueShield Association. For more information, visit the company’s news center at bcbstnews.com.
About BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Foundation, Inc.
The BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Foundation, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation organized to promote the philanthropic mission of BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee. It has awarded $120 million in grants since 2005. The foundation provides funding for the BlueCross Healthy Place program, which creates active, healthy spaces across Tennessee.
About Blue Cross Blue Shield Association
The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association is a national federation of 34 independent, community-based and locally operated Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies that collectively provide health care coverage for one in three Americans.
About Boys & Girls Clubs of America
For more than 160 years, Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA.org) has provided a safe place for kids and teens to learn and grow. Clubs offer caring adult mentors, fun and friendship, and high-impact youth development programs on a daily basis during critical non-school hours. Boys & Girls Clubs programming promotes academic success, good character and leadership, and healthy lifestyles. Over 5,000 Clubs serve over 3.6 million young people through Club membership and community outreach. Clubs are located in cities, towns, public housing and on Native lands throughout the country, and serve military families in BGCA-affiliated Youth Centers on U.S. military installations worldwide. National headquarters are located in Atlanta. Learn more about Boys & Girls Clubs of America on Facebook and Twitter.