The Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation for Health awarded a $50,000 grant to Communities for Youth as a part of a citywide project that is focused on improving youth behavioral health in the Boise community.

The grant supports the work of Communities for Youth, an Idaho-based initiative focused on improving youth mental health and well-being. Communities for Youth uses an upstream prevention approach and works with key partners and stakeholders to promote youth mental health in schools, neighborhoods, and cities.

“Idaho has a youth behavioral health crisis, and it’s important to support efforts and organizations who are working to improve the conditions for our youth,” said Jackie Yarbrough, Senior Program Officer, Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation for Health. “Improving youth behavioral health requires a multi-tiered approach, and we’re excited to work in partnership with organizations such as Communities for Youth that are invested in evidence-based approaches that are locally driven.”

The Boise initiative launched after data from a 2022 survey conducted by Communities for Youth in Boise showed a lack of social connection to be one of the main drivers of depression and suicidal ideation in young people. The Boise initiative is highly focused on increasing youth social connections, which are quality relationships with peers, parents, or other trusted adults.

“We are thankful for the support from the Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation for Health and others who recognize the importance of improving youth mental health and well-being,” said Dr. Megan Smith, director, Communities for Youth. “By focusing our efforts on youth voice through surveys, it allows us to address issues in real-time and truly meet the needs of our kids. Anyone can help increase social connection for kids, and we can start today.”

The $50,000 grant is the latest investment in youth behavioral health by the Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation for Health. The 501(c)3 nonprofit organization has made this pressing health issue one of its priorities based on feedback from across the state about the severity of the youth behavioral health crisis.

Since 2017, the Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation for Health has worked with more than 50 schools and school districts on a variety of programs that focus on youth behavioral health. It also has established scholarship programs at Idaho colleges and universities for students studying to be licensed clinical social workers and counselors to help bolster the behavioral health workforce in the state. Additionally, the Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation for Health granted Communities for Youth an $80,000 grant so it could expand its reach in Idaho.