Behavioral health is one of Idaho’s most-pressing health issues and has been for many years. Recently there has been increasing dialogue among policy makers around behavioral health in Idaho. Behavioral healthcare can help Idahoans live productive and happy lives.

Mike Reynoldson is President and Board Chair of the Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation for Health.

Blue Cross of Idaho established the Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation for Health to give back to Idaho and address health issues. The Foundation team and its board of directors feel a strong duty to be responsive to Idaho’s needs. For several years, the Foundation has made significant investments to improve behavioral health. By responding to behavioral health needs across Idaho, the Foundation has been addressing this root cause that impacts the health of our state.

Here are some examples of what the Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation for Health has done to address behavioral health in Idaho this past year:

Idaho State University: The Foundation recently awarded $1.5 million to Idaho State University to offer scholarships to students who wanted to become behavioral health counselors. Idaho has a severe shortage of behavioral health providers, and this addresses that problem head on. The $1.5 million investment was the largest grant that the Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation for Health has ever awarded. Those funds also will enable more students to earn clinical experience in rural parts of our state, thus providing care to Idahoans in rural parts of our state.

Lewis and Clark State College: A $1 million scholarship program with Lewis-Clark State College launched in 2021. The recipients of these scholarships are students from Idaho majoring in healthcare-related fields, including social work and behavioral health counseling.

Project Echo: The Foundation was the first donor to contribute to the University of Idaho’s Project ECHO’s behavioral health endowment. Project ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes) is a program replicated worldwide to address regional healthcare concerns that connects rural physicians, nurses and other healthcare specialists. The $300,000 donation will help more healthcare providers offer better behavioral health services in Idaho. We’re no strangers to Project ECHO — the Foundation previously awarded funding to help this valuable program visit healthcare providers around Idaho to make them aware of this peer network and the many training opportunities it offers.

Healthy Minds Partnership: is a collaborative effort between schools, behavioral healthcare providers and the Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation for Health. In 2021, six public and charter schools received technical assistance awards to help them bring behavioral health services to their buildings. This partnership has directly helped 20 schools establish school-based behavioral health services that increase student access to care. This partnership continues to expand within school districts where it has launched, giving more students access to care. The feedback our Foundation team receives lets us know the value of the Healthy Minds Partnership. In 2022, we are working with 10 additional schools/school districts.

Behavioral health will continue to be a priority for the Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation for Health because it remains one of our state’s most-pressing health issues. I am happy to inform you that we are furthering our commitment to behavioral health by working with Idaho schools and other partners to look for solutions to build a healthier Idaho.

You can learn more about the Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation for Health by visiting our website, subscribing to our newsletter and following us on social media.