CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield Invests $7.9 Million To Address Behavioral Health Crisis

Today, CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield (CareFirst), a not-for-profit and the largest health plan in the mid-Atlantic region, announced nearly $8 million in investments to 19 community-based organizations in Maryland, Washington D.C., and Northern Virginia. These multi-year grants will work to address the unprecedented impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the mental health of the region’s children, adolescents, and families. With a focus on eliminating barriers in access to services and expanding the number of providers available in the behavioral health workforce, the initiatives stand to collectively impact nearly 25,000 people.

“CareFirst recognizes that behavioral health is an essential part of overall health, which includes a continuum of conditions ranging from severe mental health disorders to the emotional, psychological, and social factors that affect a person’s overall wellbeing,” said Dr. Destiny-Simone Ramjohn, Vice President of Community Health and Social Impact for CareFirst. “We are proud to invest in 19 dynamic organizations who will minimize behavioral health disparities among young people and dramatically increase the number of trained health professionals that provide culturally responsive and trauma-informed behavioral health care.”

CareFirst conducted key interviews with community-based organizations and subject matter experts to inform funding priority areas, which include:

  • Addressing behavioral health disparities for at-risk youth, including rural, low-income, youth of color and LGBTQ youth, especially programs that address the root causes leading to higher prevalence of mental health and substance use disorders among this population as well as those that improve screening and referral pathways for behavioral health services and/or peer-to-peer and related support services interventions
  • Expanding the behavioral health workforce, especially initiatives that promote recruitment and retention of providers from disadvantaged backgrounds or incentivize health professionals to practice in geographical areas with limited access to mental health care

Advancing behavioral health equity is one of four priority areas of focus in Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies’ National Health Equity Strategy, announced in April 2021. Special consideration was given to organizations serving Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC), disconnected youth, persons experiencing homelessness, populations with limited English proficiency (LEP), structurally disinvested communities, justice-involved individuals, LGBTQ populations, low-income communities, rural communities and other marginalized communities.

Organizations receiving funds include:

  • Association for the Public Defender of Maryland (Prince George’s County, MD)
  • Centro Hispano de Frederick Inc. (Frederick County, MD)
  • Chase Brexton Health Services (Baltimore City, MD)
  • Identity Inc. (Montgomery County, MD)
  • Pride Center of Maryland (Baltimore City, MD)
  • Sasha Bruce Youthwork (Washington, D.C)
  • St. Ignatius Loyola Academy (Baltimore City, MD)
  • Supporting and Mentoring Youth Advocates and Leaders (Washington, D.C.)
  • Young Women’s Project (Washington, D.C.)
  • Whitman-Walker Health (Washington, D.C)
  • Arlington Free Clinic (Arlington, VA)
  • Center for Urban Families (Baltimore City, MD)
  • University of Maryland Charles Regional Medical Center (Charles County, MD)
  • Enoch Pratt Library of Baltimore City in partnership with Maryland Peer Advisory Council and Healing City Baltimore (Baltimore City, MD)
  • Luminis Health Inc. (Anne Arundel County, MD)
  • Pathway Homes (Washington, D.C.)
  • Pathways to Housing D.C. (Washington D.C.)
  • West Cecil Health Center, Inc. (Cecil County, MD)
  • Worcester Youth & Family Counseling Services (Worcester County, MD)

“Complete health and well-being are human rights achieved through a 360-approach including physical, mental and emotional care,” said Hosanna Asfaw-Means, Director of Community Health and Social Impact for CareFirst. “These investments will ensure that our region is better equipped to provide a continuum of care for a wide number of populations experiencing behavioral health disparities.”

To learn more about CareFirst’s grant opportunities and focus areas visit CareFirst’s Community website. 

About CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield

In its 85th year of service, CareFirst, an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, is a not-for-profit healthcare company which, through its affiliates and subsidiaries, offers a comprehensive portfolio of health insurance products and administrative services to 3.6 million individuals and employers in Maryland, the District of Columbia and Northern Virginia. In 2021, CareFirst invested $26.2 million to improve overall health, and increase the accessibility, affordability, safety and quality of healthcare throughout its market areas. To learn more about CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, visit our website at and our transforming healthcare page at, or follow us on FacebookTwitterLinkedIn or Instagram.