The charitable arm of Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield is investing more than $5 million in enhancing behavioral health services across the state.
The Blue & You Foundation is making $5.29 million in grants available for these efforts, which will be concentrated in eight programs that aim to address the "growing behavioral health crisis in the state," the insurer said.
The slate of programs addresses behavioral health needs impacting people of all ages, from early childhood to adolescence to adulthood, according to the announcement. The funds will go toward growing the number of behavioral health professionals working in the state.
“We believe that addressing the behavioral healthcare needs of our state requires collaboration with local organizations that have demonstrated success in increasing access, improving outcomes and reducing stigma,” said Curtis Barnett, president and CEO of Arkansas Blue Cross, in a statement.
“We recognize the impact behavioral health can have on the health of individuals, families, and communities as a whole. With these investments, we can help create healthier communities and give hope to those in need, while normalizing the conversation around behavioral health," Cross said.
Here's more on where the funds will be used:
- A $1.5 million grant will be awarded to Arkansas Children's to integrate the HealthySteps program into pediatric primary care facilities in the state.
- The University of Arkansas for Medical Science will receive $1.95 million to expand the AR-Connect and Trauma Resource Initiative for Schools programs.
- Arkansas State University, University of Arkansas - Fayetteville and University of Arkansas - Little Rock will split $1.735 million, which will be used to enhance their Master of Social Work programs.
- The National Alliance on Mental Illness' Arkansas chapter will receive $105,000 to grow its work to expand mental health services and reduce the stigma around seeking behavioral health care.
“From the onset of our research and discovery process, we knew that we’d be more successful in achieving our goal to improve behavioral healthcare in Arkansas by finding established and proven programs within the Natural State,” said Rebecca Pittillo, executive director of the Blue & You Foundation, in a statement.
“As we engaged with organizations across the state, I was amazed at the innovative approaches to challenging issues and the tremendous results already achieved," Pittillo said. "The programs led by the grant recipients announced today will go a long way in helping provide immediate and long-term support for Arkansans in need.”