OAKLAND, Calif. (September 1, 2020) – Blue Shield of California’s BlueSky Initiative, in partnership with DoSomething.org – the largest organization for young people and social change – launched a first-of-its-kind digital mental health guide for youth, created for students by students. The guide provides young people with peer-to-peer tips on self-care, managing stress from digital learning, and supporting the mental health of fellow classmates.
With COVID-19 disrupting schooling for more than 55 million students across the United States, DoSomething.org, and the BlueSky initiative called on their members to submit advice to help students during these difficult times. This campaign, entitled “The New State of Mind,” ran from April through June of this year and generated almost 75,000 tips.
“When we initially launched this campaign with DoSomething, we had no idea how turbulent this school year would be for millions of students, as well as their teachers and parents,” says Bryce Williams, vice president of Mind Body Medicine at Blue Shield of California. “What ‘The New State of Mind’ proves is that young people were not just anxious about the new reality of distance learning and everyday stressors, they were also committed to finding an outlet to talk about their troubles and offer solutions that would not just help them, but help others too.”
The BlueSky initiative is a multi-year commitment by Blue Shield of California to help put more services into schools to support teens and address youth mental health issues. The release of the guide comes as year two of the program gets underway – following a successful inaugural campaign that saw more than 450 students receive counseling and over 800 teachers trained in mental health awareness.
In addition to publishing the digital mental-health guide for youth, DoSomething and BlueSky created a data-driven report for parents and teachers that highlights students’ mental-health concerns and trends since shelter-in-place orders became widespread in March. Through the thousands of submissions, three themes remained consistent across The New State of Mind: self-care, remote learning and helping loved ones. Sample tips from across these three core topics include:
- Find a creative outlet (from stress baking and planting, to coloring and podcasting)
- Get moving and get outside (a walk around the block, a run, or jumping rope)
- Expressing emotions (whether it is space to cry, or listening to music to calm down)
- Reach out when you need help (face-timing with friends or joining online support groups to meet new ones)
- Put aside time for you, but also make time for others (creating a schedule that builds in work and play, to journaling, and being more mindful of others’ unique needs)
As one 17-year-old DoSomething member named Alexander notes in the guide, “My plan is to keep in touch with my friends and really pay attention so if I notice if they act differently or become depressed, I can be sure they get help before something tragic happens. The signs are usually there if someone is looking and it’s more important than ever now.”
“This guide comes at a time where young people really needed it most. They are stressed, they are scared, and they are sad,” says Sahara Lake, senior manager of community impact with DoSomething.org. “But what we also found is that there is also a lot of hope among young people. They share great advice on how to grapple with stress, and how to continue to move forward, and that’s a good thing.”
“For anyone dealing with stress or any type of mental health issue, I would like them to know that you are not alone. We can work together as a community to overcome these hardships,” says Colleen, an 18-year-old DoSomething member. “This campaign helped me to reflect on positive energy and thoughts instead of all the negatives, and I’m sure it will do the same for those who pick it up and read it today.”
To access student mental health resources including the complete "New State of Mind" guide, click on the BlueSky webpage at blueshieldca.com/bluesky.
About Blue Shield of California
Blue Shield of California strives to create a healthcare system worthy of our family and friends that is sustainably affordable. Blue Shield of California is a tax paying, nonprofit, independent member of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association with over 4 million members, 6,800 employees and more than $20 billion in annual revenue. Founded in 1939 in San Francisco and now headquartered in Oakland, Blue Shield of California and its affiliates provide health, dental, vision, Medicaid and Medicare healthcare service plans in California. The company has contributed more than $500 million to Blue Shield of California Foundation since 2002 to have an impact on California communities.
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