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A Word With Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield CEO Curtis Barnett

Preparing students for behavioral health careers

Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield recognizes that education is essential to the successful future of our youth. It’s important that students have access to safe, high-quality schools and good career paths when they finish.

When we learned about the Academies of Central Arkansas model from the Little Rock Chamber of Commerce, it was clear to us that our company needed to play a role.

With our focus on mental and behavioral health- recognizing that physical health and mental health are intimately and completely connected, we knew Parkview Arts & Science Magnet High School was a perfect fit with its pathway focused on health and applied science with an emphasis on mental and behavioral health.

We’re facing a mental and behavioral health crisis in our country. We continue to see significant increases in rates of depression, anxiety, suicidal behaviors, and substance use, especially among our adolescents and young adults.

The mental and behavioral healthcare challenges we face are layered and complex. Expanding the available mental health workforce to meet the growing demand must be part of the solution.

A critical first step in growing the behavioral health workforce is to expose young people to mental health career paths while they’re in high school.

We look forward to working alongside the Parkview team- teachers, administrators, and an academy coach- to develop and deploy the mental and behavioral health pathway of study.

There are many rewarding career opportunities in the behavioral health field, and the need is great. We hope to provide engaging learning opportunities for students to help them not only understand and prepare for the many job opportunities in behavioral health but also to appreciate how their work helps people live better lives.

Our hope is that this will be an amazing opportunity to make a real difference in the future of our city and state where these students will live, work, and play in the future.

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