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Blue Shield of California Joins Blue Cross Blue Shield Association in Supporting Boys & Girls Clubs of America to Address Youth Mental Health Crisis

A trauma-informed approach to mental health can help youth heal, build resilience and navigate emotional challenges.

OAKLAND, Calif. (June 22, 2023) – Blue Shield of California is joining the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) in supporting the Boys & Girls Clubs of America to combat the youth mental health crisis in the United States through trauma-informed approaches to behavioral health care.


BCBSA and Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies nationwide are investing more than $10 million over four years, which will help Boys & Girls Clubs of America implement trauma-informed practices in its more than 5,000 Clubs by 2026 and train over 48,000 staff to better support the emotional and mental well-being of over 3.6 million children. 

“When it comes to mental health, youth in California and across the U.S. are in crisis. By supporting the Boys & Girls Clubs, we can equip caring adults to engage more effectively with youth when behavioral health challenges arise,” said Antoinette Mayer, Blue Shield of California vice president of Corporate Citizenship and co-founder of the company’s BlueSky youth mental health initiative. “This trauma-informed approach helps foster trust and engagement, making it easier to intervene early and keep kids on the path for the future they deserve.”

With the support of Blue Shield of California and BCBSA, Boys & Girls Clubs of America will be able to incorporate trauma-informed practices in Clubs across the nation by:

  • Creating and implementing resources to integrate trauma-informed strategies throughout Clubs.
  • Increasing staff awareness and skills through trauma-informed professional development and expanding regional trauma-informed training centers to reach staff across the country.
  • Providing programming and resources that build young people’s social-emotional development skills and equip them to navigate challenging experiences.
  • Increasing access to mental health services by piloting virtual therapy sessions for youth and staff.
  • Evaluating Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s trauma-informed strategy to inform learnings and drive quality improvement.

“Providing physical and emotional safety for our young people is fundamental to everything we do in Boys & Girls Clubs,” said Jim Clark, Boys & Girls Clubs of America president and CEO. “We know every child and teen is better equipped to succeed when we meet them where they are to address their needs, and that includes providing access to reliable mental health resources and support. Through our partnership with the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, we’re eager to expand our trauma-informed work in Clubs and deepen their capacity to serve as safe places for youth across the nation.”

New BCBSA research finds that diagnosed rates of anxiety among those 13 to 18 years of age have steadily risen between 2017 and 2021, and rates of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and depression have grown roughly 50% to 60% during the same period. Black and Hispanic youth with a mental health condition are more likely to have negative outcomes compared to their white counterparts. And all youth of color, as well as youth in rural areas, are less likely to be diagnosed with mental health conditions.

“The United States has been grappling with a growing and alarming youth mental health crisis that demands a multi-faceted approach to provide kids with the tools they need to confront the challenges they face in school, at home and in their everyday lives,” said Kim Keck, BCBSA president and CEO. “Between 5,000 Clubs across the country and the Blues’ deep roots in every ZIP code, together we are uniquely positioned to intervene early, get kids the help they need, and set them on the path for the future they deserve.”

Collaborating with the Boys & Girls Clubs builds on the successful work of Blue Shield of California’s BlueSky youth mental health initiative, which launched in 2019. Together with the California Department of Education and leading nonprofit organizations, BlueSky works to improve the mental health of all California youth, with a focus on health inequities in communities of color.  


About Blue Shield of California

Blue Shield of California strives to create a healthcare system worthy of its family and friends that is sustainably affordable. Blue Shield of California is a tax paying, nonprofit, independent member of the Blue Shield Association with more than 4.8 million members, over 7,500 employees and more than $24 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 $97 million to Blue Shield of California Foundation in the last three years to have an impact on California communities. For more news about Blue Shield of California, please visit Or follow us on LinkedInTwitter, or Facebook.

About Blue Cross Blue Shield Association

The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association is a national federation of 34 independent, community-based and locally operated Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies that collectively provide health care coverage for one in three Americans. 

About Boys & Girls Clubs of America

For more than 160 years, Boys & Girls Clubs of America ( has provided a safe place for kids and teens to learn and grow. Clubs offer caring adult mentors, fun and friendship, and high-impact youth development programs on a daily basis during critical non-school hours. Boys & Girls Clubs programming promotes academic success, good character and leadership, and healthy lifestyles. Over 5,000 Clubs serve over 3.6 million young people through Club membership and community outreach. Clubs are located in cities, towns, public housing and on Native lands throughout the country, and serve military families in BGCA-affiliated Youth Centers on U.S. military installations worldwide. National headquarters are located in Atlanta. Learn more about Boys & Girls Clubs of America on Facebook and Twitter.