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From our partners: Healthier Kids Foundation and Franklin McKinley School District partner with leading health providers to develop an innovative mental health screening program for children

Corporate news | Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Anthem Blue Cross Foundation, Santa Clara Family Health Plan, Sutter Health Palo Alto Medical Foundation, and the Tianqiao and Chrissy Chen Institute collaborate on launching a first-of-its-kind school-based program.

Today, Healthier Kids Foundation, a Silicon Valley non-profit whose mission is to provide all children with access to preventive health care, and Franklin McKinley School District, which is located in the heart of East San Jose, announced a yearlong effort, in collaboration with Anthem Blue Cross Foundation, Santa Clara Family Health Plan, Sutter Health Palo Alto Medical Foundation (PAMF), and the Tiangiao and Chrissy Chen Institute, to develop a preventive mental health program to screen fifth graders for social and emotional health needs. This new program, called My HealthFirst, is unique in that it pairs a Healthier Kids Foundation screener with a physician and a school social worker to screen students using a mental health assessment tool. This program will complement the physical health screenings students in the district already receive.

Based on the results of the screenings, parents are aided in connecting to the appropriate support for their children. Early identification of children suffering from anxiety, depression and stress allows for preventive care through school linked services as well as behavioral health contracted organizations.

“At Anthem Blue Cross, we recognize the importance of addressing emotional wellbeing as part of a whole person care approach, and know it is critical to address concerns before they escalate into more complex conditions,” said Dr. Barsam Kasravi, President of Anthem Blue Cross Medi-Cal. “The My HealthFirst program aligns with our mission to simplify healthcare by making comprehensive care solutions available to families in school settings, where they can easily be accessed. We are proud to help drive this innovative effort to improve lives.”

David Quincy, M.D., Area CEO PAMF South Bay, said, “The pandemic could have derailed this program due to the virtual school setting, but the organizations persevered and found methods to work around the barriers. We have been supportive of Healthier Kids Foundation’s work for years due to their ability to find unique approaches to preventive care for underserved children of our community.”

Bob Brownstein, Chair of the Governing Board of Santa Clara Family Health Plan (SCFHP), expressed his support, noting “As a community, we still have significant progress to make in providing accessible treatment for mental health issues. When Healthier Kids Foundation approached SCFHP for support of this initiative, we appreciated the potential of their proposed school screening and referral program. We applaud Healthier Kids Foundation and Franklin McKinley for tenacity in working through the challenges of a pilot program during the pandemic. Based on the initial results, it was an easy decision for SCFHP’s Governing Board to support the next phase of the initiative, as Healthier Kids Foundation and Franklin McKinley expand the program to more students.”

Santa Clara County Supervisor Susan Ellenberg stated, “Addressing the mental health and wellbeing of children and youth is critical, especially during this pandemic. I am impressed the partners have been able to adapt and make this program work despite the challenges of remote learning and I look forward to this program and other expanded wellness resources reaching more students in the coming years.”

By utilizing in-person zoom screenings and linguistically skilled Parent Advocates, Zoom meetings are set up through parents for each student to attend a 20-minute screening. At the start of the pilot program, with plans put in place before the pandemic, Healthier Kids Foundation predicted that 20% of fifth graders surveyed would require follow up for social emotional health services. However, out of the students assessed since the start of the pandemic, 44% of them were identified with a need for behavioral health support. This dramatic and unanticipated increase is evidence of the value of the My HealthFirst program.

Surveyed students report challenges that vary from victimization by bullies, receiving inappropriate texts, to the loss of a parent. During follow up calls with parents using a behavioral health survey, Parent Advocates have found that many families need additional aid to secure unemployment benefits, food, diapers, and rental assistance. Referrals to appropriate services are recorded by staff and provide a second-tier benefit of My HealthFirst.

Additionally, surveys provide an opportunity for children to report how they are coping with stress. They share what is best about themselves, how to help a friend in need, and how to increase concentration. This knowledge gives providers a road map to build on a child's strengths.

The need for the My HealthFirst program has been underscored during the pandemic by the isolation, lack of peer interactions and economic hardships faced by the children and families in the Franklin McKinley School District. Healthier Kids Foundation and Franklin McKinley staff have risen to the challenge to provide this valuable service to the most vulnerable children in our community.

About Healthier Kids Foundation

Healthier Kids Foundation is a family forward health agency that gives children and those who love them the education and cutting-edge tools they rightfully deserve to live a healthy life. At Healthier Kids Foundation, we believe preventative care at an early age makes things fair. For more information, please visit us online at www.hkidsf.org

About Franklin McKinley School District

Franklin-McKinley School District serves approximately 7,500 students ranging from Transitional Kindergarten to 8th grade at 16 schools in the city of San Jose, CA. For more information, please visit us online at www.fmsd.org.

About Anthem Blue Cross Foundation

Through charitable grant making, the Anthem Blue Cross Foundation LLC, an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Association promotes Anthem Blue Cross’s commitment to improving lives and communities. Through strategic partnerships and programs, the Foundation addresses the social drivers that will help create a healthier generation of Americans in communities that the company serves. The Foundation focuses its funding on critical initiatives that make up its Healthy Generations Program, a multi-generational initiative that targets: maternal health, diabetes prevention, cancer prevention, heart health and healthy, active lifestyles, behavioral health efforts and programs that benefit people with disabilities. The Foundation also coordinates the company’s year-round Dollars for Dollars program, which provides a 100 percent match of associates’ donations, as well as its Volunteer Time Off and Dollars for Doers community service programs. ®ANTHEM is a registered trademark of Anthem Insurance Companies, Inc. The Blue Cross names and symbol are registered marks of the Blue Cross Association. To learn more about the Anthem Blue Cross Foundation, please visit http://www.anthem.foundation and its blog at https://medium.com/anthemfoundation.

About Santa Clara Family Health Plan

SCFHP is a local, community-based health plan dedicated to improving the health and well-being of the residents of Santa Clara County. Working in partnership with providers and community organizations, we serve our neighbors through our Medi-Cal and Cal MediConnect (Medicare-Medicaid Plan) health insurance plans. SCFHP began offering coverage in 1997 and is now proud to provide services to over 275,000 residents of Santa Clara County. Through devotion to outstanding service and care for the community, SCFHP is committed to providing quality, affordable health insurance to the underserved in Santa Clara County’s diverse population. For more information, visit http://www.scfhp.com.

About Sutter Health

Headquartered in Sacramento, Calif., Sutter Health provides access to high quality, affordable care for more than 3 million Northern Californians through its network of hospitals, medical foundations, urgent and walk-in care centers, home health and hospice services. Our integrated network has created a connected model of care that is delivering coordinated healthcare when, where and how people need it. We are committed to ensuring healthcare is accessible and inclusive to all by offering comprehensive services and quality health programs tailored to the diverse communities we serve.

About the Tianqiao and Chrissy Chen Institute

The Tianqiao and Chrissy Chen Institute (TCCI) was founded in 2016 by Tianqiao Chen and his wife Chrissy Luo with a US $1 billion commitment to help advance research into the brain and mind. Later that year, they established the Tianqiao and Chrissy Chen Institute for Neuroscience at Caltech. Supporting TCCI’s work in China, in 2017 they created a strategic partnership with the Zhou Liangfu Foundation, Huashan Hospital and Shanghai Mental Health Center. In October 2020, TCCI launched the Frontier Lab for Brain Research at Huashan Hospital’s Hongqiao Campus. Follow TCCI news at www.ChenInstitute.org, on LinkedIn, or via Twitter @ChenInstitute.