The Blue & You Foundation for a Healthier Arkansas has awarded the University of Arkansas at Little Rock $605,000 to create an endowment that will provide funding for graduate students in the School of Social Work.
The endowment will help address the growing behavioral health crisis in Arkansas by increasing the number of behavioral health professionals serving the state’s communities and training these specialists to practice in primary care settings, schools officials said.
The funding is part of $5.29 million in grants for behavioral health programs in Arkansas that the Blue & You Foundation announced July 16. The grants focus on eight Arkansas programs led by six established organizations that will address the growing behavioral health crisis in 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.
“We believe that addressing the behavioral health care needs of our state requires collaboration with local organizations that have demonstrated success in increasing access, improving outcomes and reducing stigma,” said Curtis Barnett, president and CEO of Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield. “We recognize the impact behavioral health can have on the health of individuals, families, and communities as a whole. With these investments, we can help create healthier communities and give hope to those in need, while normalizing the conversation around behavioral health.”
The Blue & You Integrated Behavioral Health in Primary Care Practice Endowment will provide stipends to students in the Master of Social Work Program who are working under the supervision of licensed social workers in primary care physician offices in the state.
“We are so grateful to the Blue & You Foundation for supporting our communities by addressing behavioral health head on with this meaningful endowment,” said Michael Johnson, director of development and external relations for the College of Business, Health, and Human Services.
UA Little Rock is one of three universities in Arkansas, along with University of Arkansas and Arkansas State University, to receive grants of $500,000 from the Blue & You Foundation to create endowments to directly support students in Master of Social Work Programs. The additional $105,000 will support start-up and administrative costs for UA Little Rock’s Master of Social Work Program.