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Mental Health Awareness Month

Mental Health Awareness Month

Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, the Greenwood Education Foundation and Greenwood High School’s Bring Change 2 Mind Club partner to help teens with mental illness and suicidal ideation

Although most teenagers appear as though they’re enjoying a care-free life of hanging out with their friends, cheering at basketball or football games, and laughing during their favorite movies, the reality can be much different. The pressure to earn perfect grades while competing for scholarships, fit in with their peers for fear of being bullied, and participating in sports and multiple extracurricular activities is exhausting.

It’s no wonder that suicide is the second-leading cause of death for teens and young adults.

Locally, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield and the Greenwood Education Foundation have partnered to help teens with mental illness and/or suicidal ideation. Also, the Bring Change 2 Mind Club at Greenwood High School was created as a safe place for teens to talk about their struggles and know they are not alone. In September of last year, the club, along with GHS football players and Anthem, organized a tailgate event before a home game with mental health resources available and to spread the message that anyone, no matter how resilient they appear, can struggle with depression and anxiety. 

Q&A with Tiffany Woods, president of the Greenwood Education Foundation

Please tell us a little about the Greenwood Education Foundation, GEF Cares, and the Bring Change 2 Mind Club.

The Greenwood Education Foundation was established in 2014. Our mission is to ensure each child enrolled in Greenwood Community Schools is able to reach their academic potential. The GEF awards up to $50,000 in grants to educators every year and offers various scholarship opportunities to graduating seniors. In 2021, the GEF created the GEF Cares initiative after seeing the impact COVID-19 had on our community. We know that outside factors such as food, clothing, and mental health can impede a child’s development. The goal of the GEF Cares program is to look at the whole child, including any outside factors they may be experiencing at home, and doing our best to assist our school families in those areas. 

As the GEF Cares program became established, we had three main pillars we wanted to focus on: food, clothing, and mental health assistance. The first two pillars were quickly established through the help of local food pantries and our Coats, Cuts & Kicks event we hold each November (giving away free coats & haircuts to kids in preparation for the cold winter months). The third pillar, mental health, presented a little more of a challenge as the needs each child or school building faced were more complex. Through the help of two grant opportunities, the GEF was able to secure free music therapy for grades K-8. For our high school, we offered a different program. The GEF applied for and received the Colt’s Kicking the Stigma grant for $5,000. These funds were allocated to the high school, specifically to kick start the Bring Change to Mind program. 

Are there plans to host a second tailgate party this year?

The GEF is currently looking for sponsors for this event. All proceeds raised through this event will go directly to the GEF Cares program. The tailgate date is to be decided. 

What are GEF’s plans for the future?

The GEF plans to continue supporting families with mental health needs and offering financial assistance based on grants we receive. Currently, our grant funds provide free music therapy to select students in grades K-8 as well as providing the funding for any Bring Change to Mind activities. In 2024-2025, the GEF hopes to expand its offerings and provide one-on-one private counseling services to a select group of students whose financial situation at home prohibits them from receiving the services they need.

Q&A with Lissi Lobb, behavioral health program director for Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Indianapolis, board member of GEF, and mother of students in the Greenwood Community School district

Please explain why Anthem partnered with GEF

The Anthem Indiana Medicaid Team regularly identifies partnerships with community organizations such as GEF that are dedicated to improving the lives of school-age youth in Indiana. GEF was approached by Anthem about the opportunity to collaborate for a weeklong mental health initiative and awareness campaign. The partnership was natural and organic as we have team members on both the GEF and Anthem side that are alumni and/or have children in the school districts. When I was approached with the concept to raise awareness around youth mental health, I was thrilled. My passions of community, football, and my occupation intersected, and I knew this experience would be tremendously impactful for students, teachers, coaches as well as our entire community. Programs such as the Highlight Mental Health Tailgate are intended to combat stigma, provide information and resources, and ensure all Hoosiers have access to mental health services and supports.

We learned that GEF had recently supported the school district in standing up a Bring Change to Mind (BC2M) at GHS through a recent grant. Anthem works closely with the BC2M organization at the state level. We saw this as a perfect opportunity to support the local BC2M club as they began their recruitment of new members and bringing awareness to their peers. The GEF board was immediately receptive to the mission and really helped foster connections to local vendors and community partners that contributed to the success of the week. We joined forces to provide local students, staff and families with tools, resources, and support for mental health. Empowering students to advocate with their friends, students, teachers, and others in their communities for mental health awareness is vital to creating a more empathetic and stigma-free school environment. 

Why is it important to reach out to teens/young adults specifically who are struggling? 

Reaching out to teens to promote awareness of resources such as 988 and encouraging open conversations about mental health is important as suicide is the second-leading cause of death for high school-age youth. Studies have shown only half of children and adolescents with a mental health condition receive the treatment they need. Early intervention and mental health support can help our youth as they navigate these challenges. Our hope is that by making resources visible and providing opportunities for our students to be mental health advocates, we can destigmatize the conversation so that those that are struggling don’t feel so isolated or alone. Highlight Mental Health is all about showing Greenwood students that there are people within their own community who really care about them and who want to see them succeed. Anthem alongside the participating organizations are focused on the whole health needs of individuals, families, and communities encouraging conversations about mental health. The importance of emotional well-being continues to be at the forefront by raising mental health awareness, providing education and training tools, and offering community assistance with timely information and services.


“The 988 Lifeline offers free and confidential support for anyone in crisis. That includes people who need support for a suicidal, mental health and/or substance use crisis, or who are in emotional distress. What happens when a person calls, texts, or chats? When a person calls or texts 988 or chats 988lifeline.org, they are connected with a crisis counselor who listens, tries to understand how the problem is affecting the person, provides support, and shares resources. 988 Lifeline crisis counselors are trained to help reduce the intensity of a situation for the person seeking help and connect them to additional local resources to support their well-being.” – Lissi Lobb

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