Image from Blue Shield's Blue Sky initiative web page.
Image from Blue Shield’s Blue Sky initiative web page.

Blue Shield of California announced it was giving $300,000 in grants to 18 mental health-focused nonprofits in San Diego and Alameda counties Thursday.

The money will be split among the nonprofits — nine in San Diego — and is part of Blue Shield’s ongoing BlueSky initiative, a multiyear effort to enhance awareness, advocacy and access to mental health support for middle and high school students in California. The initiative was launched last fall and provides behavioral health counseling services for students in the two counties.

“Building on the success of our BlueSky program, we are adding additional support to reach youth who are unable to participate in school-based mental health services due to COVID-19,” said Kimberley Goode, senior vice president of external affairs for Blue Shield.

“We want to support as many nonprofit groups as we can to help them use innovative ways to increase youth resilience. This funding will help these organizations provide programming for more teens who are struggling with everyday stressors.”

The local grant recipients are Harmonium, Union of Pan Asian Communities, The San Diego LGBT Community Center, North County Lifeline, Casa Familiar, A Reason to Survive, The Aja Project, MANA de San Diego and Blue Star Families.

These organizations, as well as the Alameda County ones, were chosen because of their range of health interventions that include arts, sports, advocacy, music, leadership, multilingual/cultural, sexual and gender identity and mental health tele-counseling.


“When the pandemic struck, we had to fully transform our operations in a few days’ time to accommodate the influx of need in the community,” said Cara Dessert, chief executive officer of the San Diego LGBT Community Center.

“We immediately shifted individual therapy sessions so they could safely and effectively be done via Zoom, and opened an emergency help phone line to ensure people could get resources and referrals. Because of Blue Shield’s altruism, we will be able to continue with that good work and, ultimately, assist more people.”

BlueSky is a multiyear commitment by Blue Shield to support mental health for middle and high school students in California by providing additional clinicians in schools, training teachers on the signs of mental health issues and empowering students with in-person and online mental health support resources.

Since last fall, the BlueSky initiative has provided more than 3,000 counseling sessions in 19 schools in Alameda and San Diego counties.

In addition, students across the nation have shared nearly 60,000 stress-reducing tips and suggestions for their peers as part of The New State of Mind campaign, which began in April in collaboration with DoSomething.org, the largest organization for young people and social change in the nation.

— City News Service

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