Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota Pledges $600,000 to Minnesota State Mankato's Center for Rural Behavioral Health
Mankato, Minn. – Minnesota State University, Mankato President Edward Inch announced today that Blue Cross® and Blue Shield® of Minnesota (Blue Cross) has pledged $600,000 over three years to establish the operational structure and advance the growth of the Center for Rural Behavioral Health at the University.
This collaboration between the University and Blue Cross will promote the mission of the Center for Rural Behavioral Health, which aims to improve access to mental health care in rural and outstate Minnesota. The relationship includes exclusive naming rights for the Center, which will be named “Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota Center for Rural Behavioral Health at Minnesota State University, Mankato.”
“We thank Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota for working with Minnesota State Mankato to grow the Center for Rural Behavioral Health,” said Inch. “By working together, the University and Blue Cross are expanding efforts to meet the behavioral health care needs in Minnesota’s rural communities.”
The investment from Blue Cross will allow the Center, as one of the first rural behavioral health centers in the nation, to develop and disseminate best practices on building the behavioral health workforce, said Thad Shunkwiler, founding director of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota Center for Rural Behavioral Health at Minnesota State University, Mankato.
“At a time in which accessing behavioral health care in our communities has never been more difficult, this collaboration between the Center and Blue Cross will assist in the development of the resources needed to address the workforce shortage within behavioral health,” said Shunkwiler.
This collaboration is the most recent example of Blue Cross’ commitment to addressing racial and health inequities, which was formalized in 2020 when the company added racial and health equity as a core business functional area and operating imperative. It also builds on Blue Cross’ long history of investing in communities and partnering with individuals and organizations with the greatest potential for impact.
“Advancing racial and health equity requires investing in long-term solutions that change existing structures and systems,” said Bukata Hayes, chief equity officer and vice president of racial and health equity at Blue Cross. “We have seen in the last few years the increasing visibility of mental health in our communities, and it is often the lack of access to mental health care that creates further inequities in total health. At Blue Cross we see this in our greater Minnesota communities, where behavioral health support is one of the most frequently requested services. With this collaboration, we’re eager to be part of the solution – working to change systems so our fellow community members have access to what they need to live their healthiest lives.”
Blue Cross previously pledged $500,000 to Minnesota State Mankato to establish a presidential scholarship program and provide annual support for the University’s Health and Biomedical Sciences Summit and Undergraduate Research Center to help build more career pathways for health care practitioners and culturally competent care providers.
About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota
For nearly 90 years, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota (bluecrossmn.com) has supported the health, wellbeing and peace of mind of our members by striving to ensure equitable access to high quality care at an affordable price. Our 2.5 million members can be found in every Minnesota county, all 50 states and on four continents. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.
About Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota State Mankato, a comprehensive university with 14,482 students, is part of the Minnesota State system, which includes 30 colleges and seven universities.