Strategic Investments Address Childhood Trauma Prevention and Treatment

Published April 6, 2022

Strategic investments link community-based treatment and prevention programs to make a positive impact on mental health.

Studies show the link between traumatic events during childhood can have lasting impact on mental and physical health through adulthood without intervention and treatment. The Blue & You Foundation for a Healthier Arkansas is working to improve the health of children with an investment strategy that brings together community-based initiatives with overlapping commitments to raise awareness and to  prevent and intervene on behalf of patients in crisis. The results are making a positive impact on mental health throughout the state. The Blue & You Foundation is a charitable foundation established and funded by Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield to promote better health in Arkansas.

“No single part of the health care system is large enough to drive the kind of change that’s needed,” said Curtis Barnett, president and CEO of Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield.  “It makes sense to partner with high-quality, highly committed mission-based organizations and do what you can to scale their impact to even greater levels,” he said.

In 2021, the Blue & You Foundation, led by Executive Director Rebecca Pittillo, awarded $5.29 million in grants to several community-based initiatives that impact behavioral health of young children, teenagers and adults.

An example of partnership is taking place between two programs at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS). UAMS researchers are training school teachers and administrators to identify trauma in children while simultaneously utilizing a free UAMS service that provides trauma-informed care resources for teachers and parents. It’s just one example of two innovative programs working together to support mental health in the community. And it was an important factor in the Blue & You Foundation’s investment strategy to support both programs to scale their positive impact statewide.

  • Trauma Resource Initiative for Schools – (TRIS), a program in cooperation with the Arkansas Department of Education and multiple statewide partners designed to build trauma-informed schools in which all staff, students, families and community members recognize and respond to traumatic stress. Blue & You Foundation investment - $1.2 million over three years.
  • AR-Connect Now – A free, 24-hour service providing resources and treatment options for all Arkansans in need of immediate behavioral health care in their local area. AR-Connect Now is overseen by the UAMS Psychiatric Research Institute. Blue & You Foundation investment - $750,000 over two years.

The Blue & You Foundation investment has already made a positive impact on both programs. By the end of 2021 the teacher training (TRIS) program has expanded “on a scale like never before,” training more than one thousand teachers statewide according to the program’s director Dr. Nikki Edge. Likewise, AR-Connect Now plans to expand its capacity to serve more patients following a 30% increase in weekly, initial appointments.  “I think it is such a winning strategy for Blue & You (Foundation) to fund our programs together,” said AR-Connect Now director Dr. Teresa Hudson. “With the Blue & You Foundation support, we can now engage across the lifespan of children, teacher, administrator, parent. This underscores an important part of why these partnerships must exist.”

You can read about all the initiatives supported by the Blue & You Foundation here.

Arkansas Blue Cross established the Blue & You Foundation in 2001. Since then, it has awarded more than $45 million to nonprofits, schools and governmental agencies for more than 2,700 health-improvement programs in 301 communities and in all 75 counties.

Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield and the Blue & You Foundation for a Healthier Arkansas are independent licensees of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.