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Blue Ribbon Foundation Grants Support Mental Health

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May 10, 2010

More than 3,800 residents benefit from screenings and education programs

May 10, 2010 Wilkes-Barre, PA – In 1949, the U.S. Congress worked with the nonprofit advocacy group Mental Health America to designate each May as Mental Health Month, a time to raise awareness about mental health conditions and the challenges faced by people living with them.

Sixty-one years later, Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania’s Blue Ribbon Foundation is doing its part by awarding grants to local agencies that are providing screenings and education programs for more than 3,800 residents who need behavioral health support.

“It is important to raise awareness of mental health issues among health care providers and the community at large,” said Dr. Leo Hartz, chief medical officer for BCNEPA.  “Education programs and screenings are critical in helping individuals discover hidden mental health risks so they can get the treatment they need.” 

Through grants totaling $262,800, The Foundation has recently helped fund the following behavioral health activities across Northeastern and North Central Pennsylvania:

• The Circle of Care, located at Community Medical Center in Scranton, brings numerous community health partners together with Maternal and Family Health Services to provide comprehensive health care to un- and underinsured women during and after pregnancies. Foundation funding is being used to provide intensive prenatal case management services, including behavioral and substance abuse screenings, to an estimated 300 high-risk patients in the coming year.

• Maternal and Family Health Services also partnered with Moses Taylor Hospital and the Scranton Primary Health Care Center on another Foundation-funded project to conduct depression and anxiety screenings for 700 un- and underinsured prenatal women across Carbon, Lackawanna, Luzerne, Monroe, Pike, Susquehanna, Wayne and Wyoming Counties in 2009.  Participants were evaluated and screened by a licensed clinical psychologist during their second trimester and referred for additional services, if necessary.

• Blue Mountain Health System designed its Community Education Behavioral Health and Depressive Disorder Project to dramatically increase the amount of education and the number of community-based screenings for at-risk individuals across Carbon, Lackawanna, Luzerne, Monroe and Pike Counties. More than 2,400 participants received education, early detection, and intervention for mental health disorders in 2009 thanks to Foundation funding.

• Connections: Dealing with Trauma and Loss is a specialized therapeutic program at Friendship House that helps children cope with profound loss or trauma. A Foundation grant in 2009 enabled the program to expand services to 140 children and their families in Lackawanna and Wayne Counties. In addition, 20 clinicians received highly specialized training from the Child Abuse Research Education and Services Institute (CARES) to ensure the program’s sustainability.
• The Mental Health Screening Program at Ruth’s Place in Wilkes-Barre will increase early detection and intervention services for homeless women at-risk for behavioral health issues. Foundation funding is providing on-site psychiatric screenings to no less than 88 women at the shelter, and follow-up support services as needed.

• Susquehanna Health’s Children’s Bereavement Pilot Program is designed to fill a service gap in the Williamsport area, where the closest childhood bereavement support services are one to two hours away. A Blue Ribbon grant is providing counseling and peer support group activities to at least 50 children, and bereavement education workshops for 150 health and social service professionals who work with children.

• Also in Lycoming County, The Salvation Army partnered with the Williamsport Area School District, Big Brothers Big Sisters, West Branch Drug & Alcohol, Lycoming College and Susquehanna Health to create the Bridging the Gap life skills program in 2009. This Foundation-funded program targeted at-risk and troubled youth with learning experiences on health education, anger management and personal development, as well as guidance from an adult mentor. Twenty youth along with community mentors participated.

“Many of our community health partners are experts in behavioral health,” said Cynthia A. Yevich, executive director of The Blue Ribbon Foundation.  “By making Foundation grants that support their work, we are positively impacting the mental and overall health of residents throughout our 13 counties.”

Find out More

The Blue Ribbon Foundation’s funding cycles run quarterly. For more information on funding priorities, application deadlines and eligibility criteria, please visit, and click on The Blue Ribbon Foundation tab.

About Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania
Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association headquartered in Wilkes-Barre. It offers a comprehensive portfolio of health insurance products and administrative services to approximately 600,000 individuals in 13 counties in Northeastern and North Central Pennsylvania. 

The company’s mission is to provide innovative solutions that support more affordable health care, promote personal accountability for health and wellness, and offer superior service and partnership to employers, members, and providers.

Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania established its private, non-profit Blue Ribbon Foundation in 2002 to invest in health education and prevention initiatives that produce measurable health improvements and help manage long term health costs for the residents of Northeastern and North Central Pennsylvania.

Media Contact:
Anthony Matrisciano