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CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield Invests $7.9M to address behavioral health crisis  

CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, a not-for-profit and the largest health plan in the mid-Atlantic region, announced $7.9 million in investments to 19 community-based organizations in Maryland, Washington and northern Virginia.

These multi-year grants will work to address the unprecedented impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the mental health of the region’s children, adolescents, and families. With a focus on eliminating barriers in access to services and expanding the number of providers available in the behavioral health workforce, the initiatives stand to collectively impact nearly 25,000 people.

CareFirst conducted key interviews with community-based organizations and subject matter experts to inform funding priority areas, which include:

  • Addressing behavioral health disparities for at-risk youth, including rural, low-income, youth of color and LGBTQ youth, especially programs that address the root causes leading to higher prevalence of mental health and substance use disorders among this population as well as those that improve screening and referral pathways for behavioral health services and/or peer-to-peer and related support services interventions.
  • Expanding the behavioral health workforce, especially initiatives that promote recruitment and retention of providers from disadvantaged backgrounds or incentivize health professionals to practice in geographical areas with limited access to mental health care.
  • Advancing behavioral health equity is one of four priority areas of focus in Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies’ National Health Equity Strategy, announced in April 2021. Special consideration was given to organizations serving Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC), disconnected youth, persons experiencing homelessness, populations with limited English proficiency (LEP), structurally disinvested communities, justice-involved individuals, LGBTQ populations, low-income communities, rural communities and other marginalized communities.

Maryland organizations receiving funds include:

  • Association for the Public Defender of Maryland (Prince George’s County)
  • Centro Hispano de Frederick Inc. (Frederick County)
  • Chase Brexton Health Services (Baltimore)
  • Identity Inc. (Montgomery County)
  • Pride Center of Maryland (Baltimore)
  • Ignatius Loyola Academy (Baltimore)
  • Center for Urban Families (Baltimore)
  • University of Maryland Charles Regional Medical Center (Charles County)
  • Enoch Pratt Library of Baltimore in partnership with Maryland Peer Advisory Council and Healing City Baltimore (Baltimore)
  • Luminis Health Inc. (Anne Arundel County)
  • West Cecil Health Center, Inc. (Cecil County)
  • Worcester Youth & Family Counseling Services (Worcester County)