Blue Shield of California Wins Innovation Award for Wellvolution’s Whole-Body Approach to Health and Well-being

For the nearly 20% of American adults experiencing mental illness, more than half do not receive treatment due to challenges such as stigma and lack of access to care, according to Mental Health America. This gap has been exacerbated by the pandemic, which is a significant source of stress for 78% of adults across the U.S., according to a survey conducted by the American Psychological Association in 2020. This persistent and growing need for care has created a complicated problem, with millions of people in the U.S. in need of support.

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Blue Shield of California recognizes that this complex challenge requires an innovative solution. That’s why it collaborated with Headspace Health to add mental health and wellbeing support programs to its Wellvolution digital health platform in 2021. Today, a third of Wellvolution members have signed up to access Headspace and other mental health support programs, making these programs the most popular within the platform.

This approach is so significant that Wellvolution earned a 2022 Innovation Award from the Business Intelligence Group (BIG). BIG awards highlight organizations and individuals that change the way we experience the world. Other global industry leaders previously recognized by this organization include Abbott Laboratories, Citi, Gatorade (a unit of PepsiCo), and General Electric.

“Blue Shield is thrilled that this innovative, whole-body approach has earned this prestigious recognition from BIG,” said Angie Kalousek Ebrahimi, Blue Shield of California’s senior director of Lifestyle Medicine. “As the pandemic has changed over the past two years, so have the needs of our members. We are dedicated to evolving Wellvolution to best address their unique needs, helping them feel as healthy and happy as possible.”

Combating Mental Health Stigma and Improving Access to Proven Care

Headspace Health is designed to help members reduce stress and improve mental wellbeing through a proven program focused on mindfulness. Headspace Health adds hundreds of easily accessible meditation and stress-reduction tools and more than 1,000 exercises to the Wellvolution platform.

The member response to Headspace Health has been significant. When Blue Shield announced the new offering, members enrolled in Wellvolution at nearly five times the average rate to gain access to the newest tools and programs. Approximately 26,000 members have signed up for mental health programs in the first four months of its launch.

Mindfulness meditation has been shown to improve health outcomes by helping users better process the stressors of modern life. It may also reduce reliance on medications and more invasive and risky interventions. According to Headspace Health’s recent findings:

  • Ten days of Headspace Health utilization resulted in a 14% decrease in stress.
  • Eight weeks of using Headspace Health resulted in a 31% decrease in anxiety symptoms and a 46% decrease in depressive symptoms.

“Mental health is a critical dimension of overall health and wellbeing,” said Blue Shield’s Kalousek Ebrahimi. “Blue Shield’s Wellvolution platform delivers modern solutions to effectively close the growing gap between those that need mental health support and those that receive it by improving access and combating harmful stigma.”

The pandemic has moved conversations about mental health needs from the margins to center, helping address the stigma surrounding mental health struggles and accessing care, said Dr. Dana Udall, Chief Clinical Officer at Headspace Health, who recently spoke with Kalousek Ebrahimi. Dr. Dana Udall also notes that when it comes to mental health, telehealth has successfully and uniquely become a primary channel to access carenot just a short-term solution to pandemic restrictionsleading to “great outcomes.”

Headspace Health is available at no additional cost for Blue Shield members already enjoying Wellvolution.

Expanding Innovative Whole-Body Support and Wellbeing

Blue Shield has continued to expand its innovative whole-body approach through Wellvolution, a digital lifestyle platform that gives members access to programs and resources to prioritize health and help them lead healthier and happier lives.

In January 2022, Blue Shield added Headspace Health’s Ginger to the Wellvolution platform. Ginger is an on-demand mental health platform that can help individuals manage anxiety, depression, sleep problems, and other mental health challenges. With the addition of Ginger, Blue Shield members can now access mental health support on-demand from behavioral health coaches, licensed therapists, and psychiatrists via their smartphones.

Wellvolution helps Blue Shield of California members realize the importance of holistic self-care and empowers them to establish a healthier lifestyle with the digital tools and apps available to them through the platform. The Wellvolution platform uses decades of research and leading technology to deliver personalized support. Members can use Wellvolution to help lose weight, stop smoking, treat diabetes, support mental health, and more. Find more information about Headspace Health by visiting Wellvolution.

Blue Shield is dedicated to transforming health care to address challenges highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic, including the growing need for mental health support. This initiative is part of Blue Shield’s Health Reimagined, a comprehensive and ambitious effort introduced in 2020 to improve access to quality health care while making it more affordable.