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Blue Shield launches student mental health initiative throughout California

SAN DIEGO — Blue Shield of California announced Monday that it will launch a multi-year effort to address mental health issues among middle and high school students around the state, including in San Diego.

The company’s BlueSky initiative is a collaboration with the state’s Department of Education, Wellness Together, the National Alliance on Mental Illness California and DoSomething.org. The coalition plans to add mental health clinicians to schools around the state, train teachers to identify signs of mental health issues and offer in-person and online support.

“We all face adversity, yet each person’s future depends on his or her ability to cope with life’s challenges,” Blue Shield of California President and CEO Paul Markovich said. “Our goal through Blue Shield of California BlueSky is to help students develop the resilience and emotional well-being today that will give them a lifetime of good health.”

In San Diego, Wellness Together and Blue Shield will add mental health clinicians to schools in the Sweetwater Union and Oceanside Unified school districts as well as the county’s Juvenile Court and Community Schools program. Wellness Together and Blue Shield will add clinicians in 19 schools, total, in San Diego and Alameda counties.

Researchers with UC San Francisco’s Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies will work with Blue Shield to analyze BlueSky and determine whether it improves student mental health and leads to greater educational success.

“Increasing mental health supports for our students and educators, is a top priority for the California Department of Education,” California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond said. “We are grateful that Blue Shield of California recognizes this need, and is actively supporting our teachers, counselors, staff and students.”

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