The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) has received grants totaling $1.95 million from the Blue & You Foundation for a Healthier Arkansas to support two key behavioral health programs.
Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield, the largest health insurer in Arkansas, established the Blue & You Foundation for a Healthier Arkansas in 2001. Since then, it has awarded more than $36 million to nonprofits and governmental agencies for 1,922 health-improvement programs in 248 communities and in all 75 Arkansas counties, according to a press release.
Grant support of $1.2 million over three years will create and sustain the UAMS Arkansas 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.
The Blue & You Foundation also committed $750,000 over two years to support AR-Connect, a free, round-the-clock service overseen by the UAMS Psychiatric Research Institute offered to all Arkansans in need of urgent behavioral health care, regardless of health insurance or the ability to pay. The program has been extremely successful since its inception in spring 2020, receiving about 70 calls a week and providing services for about 60 patients, many of whom are experiencing additional stress due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Funding from Blue & You will launch a comprehensive marketing campaign to increase access and improve immediate and long-term mental health outcomes among our state’s K-12 teachers, staff, administrators, parents and students.
“I want to thank the Blue & You Foundation for their outstanding commitment to improving access to mental health care in our state,” said UAMS Chancellor Cam Patterson, M.D., MBA. “The COVID-19 pandemic has only accelerated the need for trauma-informed care. Through this new initiative and the success of AR-Connect, Arkansans will have more mental health resources available than ever before.”
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