Mental Health America Recipient of $30K Grant from CareFirst BCBS to Expand Online Screening Program
Alexandria, VA—Mental Health America (MHA) is pleased to announce that it has been awarded a $30,000 grant from CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield (CareFirst) to expand its widely successful online screening program. CareFirst is the largest health care insurer in the Mid-Atlantic region, serving 3.4 million members and employing approximately 5,000 associates and contractors in Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Northern Virginia. CareFirst also has the largest provider network in the region, with more than 80 percent of the region’s health care providers participating in one or more networks.
Nearly 44 million American adults suffer from a mental illness in a given year. The most effective way to treat any health condition is to identify and treat it early. But that usually does not happen with mental illnesses. Of the 44 million, only 41 percent will receive treatment services. Many people don’t seek treatment in the early stages of mental illnesses because of stigma. Others don’t seek treatment because they don’t recognize the symptoms. Because of this, the delays in treatment for mental illnesses are longer than for many other health conditions – often six to ten years after the onset of symptoms.
MHA’s Mental Health Screening Program, an innovative online program freely available on MHA’s website, includes anonymous evidence-based screening tools for a variety of mental health conditions, educational resources about mental health conditions, and referral tools to both national and local resources available to individuals. As most people with behavioral health concerns interact with primary care clinicians, they can take their results to their providers and begin a dialogue that can lead to early treatment and recovery. Since the launch of the screening program in April of 2014, almost 1 million mental health screens have been completed, with an average of 3,000 screens being completed every day.
“MHA is thrilled that CareFirst shares our vision for the importance of online screening,” said Paul Gionfriddo, MHA president and CEO. “MHA believes that mental health screening should be as ubiquitous for children as screening for vision, hearing, and oral health and as common for adults as blood pressure screening. This is the way to address concerns before crisis, just as we do with every other health condition. We are excited to expand our screening work, and thank CareFirst for their commitment to helping us address mental health Before Stage 4.”
The grant provided by CareFirst will allow MHA to develop and add additional screening tools to the program. Online resources specific to each condition will be expanded and provided upon completion of the screening to help respondents navigate their individual needs.
“Taking a screen is the first step when someone begins to identify symptoms,” continued Gionfriddo. “But it doesn’t stop there. MHA is committed to developing a Screening-to-Treatment that includes extensive online self-help tools. We know from the screening data that many of our screeners are young and seek information online. They are asking for more accessible digital information and we will work to provide additional resources to respond to individuals’ needs. With support from CareFirst, MHA is excited to begin taking this innovative program to the next level.”
Mental Health America is the nation’s leading community-based nonprofit dedicated to helping all Americans achieve wellness by living mentally healthier lives. Our work is driven by our commitment to promote mental health as a critical part of overall wellness, including prevention for all, early identification and intervention for those at risk, integrated health, behavioral health and other services for those who need them, and recovery as a goal.