Blue Cross Blue Shield Association partners with Boys & Girls Clubs of America to address youth mental health crisis

Published August 28, 2023

A trauma-informed approach to mental health will empower youth to heal, build resilience and navigate emotional challenges with greater effectiveness and long-term well-being.

The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) is partnering with Boys & Girls Clubs of America to combat the youth mental health crisis in the United States through trauma-informed approaches to behavioral health care. By investing more than $10 million over four years, this partnership will help Boys & Girls Clubs of America implement trauma-informed practices in its more than 5,000 Clubs by 2026 to train over 48,000 staff to better support the emotional and mental well-being of over 3.6 million children.

“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.”

With BCBSA’s support, Boys & Girls Clubs of America will be able to incorporate trauma-informed practices in Clubs across the country 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.”

Today’s youth are living through a time of increasingly collective trauma with almost half of youth experiencing a mental health disorder. While the pandemic exacerbated the mental health crisis, trauma, isolation and other societal factors are increasingly impacting youth mental health at staggering rates.

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 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.

This national partnership builds off the more than 250 mental health programs that Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies offer to meet the unique needs of their local communities. A localized approach to care fosters trust, accessibility and engagement, making it easier for young people to access the mental health resources and support they need to thrive.

“When we come together, I believe we can meaningfully improve children's lives and turn the tide on today’s youth mental health crisis,” Keck said.

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.

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.