Mental health concerns are a national issue affecting our local communities. Now more than ever, we recognize that mental health is a critical component of individual and community well-being. The Independence Blue Cross Foundation's (Foundation) focus on addressing the mental health needs of underserved youth and the health care workforce builds on its work to achieve greater health equity.
A 2020 study by Mental Health America indicated that a significant amount of health care workers are experiencing stress, anxiety, exhaustion, and burnout. Nearly half of the nurses who responded felt that they do not have adequate emotional support.
Recognizing the need for additional mental health resources, the Foundation awarded funding to the Trinity Health Mid-Atlantic health system, which established the NeuroFlow pilot program. The program provides access to on-demand tools as well as care coordination for more than 1,500 health care workers and nurses.
In the U.S., one in five children experiences a significant mental or behavioral challenge or condition. In Philadelphia, only 22 percent of youth receive the necessary professional mental health support.
To help address this, the Foundation is leading a multi-year initiative to increase access to mental health care for students at Girard College. The program combines a comprehensive, integrated telebehavioral health care model from the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia with enhanced socio-emotional support for students impacted by trauma.
The Foundation is also working with the Police Athletic League to address the stigma around mental health and improve the social and emotional well-being of Philadelphia youth (ages 6-18) through a program called Safe Space. This program provides youth with access to support, guidance, mentorship, and mental health resources.
The Foundation and the Black Brain Campaign are working together to create a more culturally competent health care workforce by increasing the representation of therapists of color in behavioral health care. Through the Licensure Education Assistance Program, a free 12-month professional development training program, participants receive training, study materials, supervision, and more to prepare them for the Pennsylvania licensure exam. By removing costs barriers that have historically prevented clinicians of color from successfully passing licensure exams, the program aims to improve culturally competent care for minorities seeking mental health treatment.