Win for Mental Wellness: Local Mental Health Organizations Get Help from Blue Cross Blue Shield | Currents function

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(Courtesy of El Rio Health Center Foundation)

El Rio staff at the 2022 AZ Community Health Worker Conference in Phoenix. (Left to right) Maria Velasco, Community Health Advisor; Vanessa Seaney, Regional Director of Behavioral Health Operations; Lorena Verdugo, Community Health Coordinator; Ernie Perez, program coordinator; and Christian Ortiz, pediatric behavioral health program manager. Seaney and Ortiz gave a presentation on youth mental health.



Blue Cross Blue Shield The Arizona Foundation for Community and Health Advancement has awarded more than $1.3 million to 19 Arizona organizations that provide mental health services.

Of the 19 organizations, six are located in Pima County: The Arizona’s Children Association, El Rio Health Center Foundation, HealthCorps Inc., San Miguel High School, Teen Lifeline, Tucson Medical Center, Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central and Northern Arizona and Interfaith Community Services.

Arizona-based nonprofits or academic institutions that wanted to expand publicly available resources, increase systems-level capacity, or have a “measurable impact” were eligible to apply.

Applicants had to have programs that addressed one of four broad categories such as chronic conditions, health equity, mental health and addiction to receive funding.

The Foundation is dedicated to advancing Arizona communities by amplifying cross-sector healthcare partnerships and assisting programs that provide services to address suicide, youth mental health, substance abuse and the effects of COVID-19.

“We are happy to be part of the solution and are proud of these grantees who are raising awareness, improving access and breaking down barriers to mental health across the state,” said Dr. Christine Wiggs, president of the foundation and president of the board of directors, in a press. Release.

The Foundation had two types of grants, discretionary and competitive. Those who received competitive grants were organizations that specifically provided mental health services. Applicants could receive up to $125,000.

Arizona’s Children’s Association received a competitive grant of $106,200 for its Youth in Transition Support Program. The project will ensure young adults have access to high-quality behavioral health support, expand an existing youth support program by hiring more staff, and provide resources to prepare them for adulthood. The funds will be distributed statewide.

HealthCorps, Inc. intends to distribute $102,682 to 12 school sites in six counties and two tribal communities, Sacaton-Gila River Indian Community and Pascua Pueblo Yaqui Reservation. The Teens Make Health Happen program will provide middle and high school students with mentors, leadership, and training focused on community service. The funds will serve 10,000 people.

The El Rio Health Center Foundation plans to increase the staff of its Hope New Youth mental health project. The $50,000 grant will fund staffing, training, space rental and community outreach. It will establish comprehensive services dedicated to healthcare access, equity, mental health and medical outcomes for underserved youth.

“This support will help us meet the community’s need to provide mental health and addictions services to our teens and their families who are seeking these services due to increased stressors, especially over the past few years. years,” said the regional director of behavioral health operations for El Rio. Health Vanessa Seaney said in a press release.

San Miguel High School in Tucson received $25,000 for its social-emotional counseling program that will provide free on-site mental health care to 350 students and 40 parents. Different services will be provided such as group counseling, support groups, private counselling, mentoring, yoga, meditation or a lecture series.

“These funds will help San Miguel High School continue its social-emotional program to address students’ mental health issues, provide them with a safe place to talk to a trained counselor, and learn coping skills for today and their future,” the vice president of advancement said. Paloma L. Santiago said in an email.

Tucson Medical Center Foundation’s Tucson Collaborative Community Care will receive $82,000 to fund the salary of a Behavioral Health Navigator (BHN) for an entire year. The BHN will ease the burden on first responders, oversee mental health screenings for approximately 450 people, and help administer the Client Assistance Fund which was also supported by this grant.

Within the discretionary grant cycle, applicants had a variety of areas of interest covering issues such as chronic health conditions, health equity, mental health, or substance use disorders. The funding cap was $25,000 and it was possible to apply for three different grant cycles.

The Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central and Northern Arizona sought funds for health equity services and received $15,000 for their Keeping Families Together program for cities in every county in Arizona. The program provides access to specialized medical care for families experiencing a pediatric health crisis. With this award, it will extend its services to an additional 700 people.

Interfaith Community Services (ICS) received $25,000 for an equal split between the health equity and chronic disease budgets. ICS will use the grant to address the growing food insecurity crisis in Pima County by expanding access to nutritious food in low-income areas and connecting clients to emergency cash assistance.

“We have always had a strong commitment to improving the health of Arizonans, and the Foundation is the framework that will allow us to take that commitment further,” Wiggs said in a press release.

The Foundation will commit $5 million over three years to continue addressing a wide range of mental health issues in Arizona.

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