In the news: Blue Shield’s Shruti Kothari on mental health and the pandemic | California Blue Shield

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February 22, 2022

More adults report that their mental health has deteriorated since the pandemic. Shruti Kothari, Director of Industry Initiatives at Blue Shield of California, along with Christopher Koller of the Milbank Memorial Fund, co-wrote a editorial in CalMatters describing the mental health crisis and how the health care system needs to improve to serve people. Kothari and Koller call for a higher level of primary care that integrates mental health with physical health.

Shruti Kothari

To challenge old ways of thinking and chart a new course, our organizations are launching a conversation about integrating physical and behavioral health to imagine a new California healthcare experience. We see a future where emotional well-being is considered as important to your health as your blood pressure. Other states have already begun to implement new methods of integrating primary and behavioral health care, and California can do the same.


Success will require a step change in the way our health care system thinks – and that’s why we’re opening this conversation everyone – from competitors in healthcare to “disruptors” in technology. Together, we will need to put in place the payment, workforce training, and technology tools needed to scale existing behavioral onboarding models. The status quo must be a thing of the past.


The calls to address equity and treat our minds as vital to health as our hearts have never been louder. Collaboration among competitors in the healthcare industry is essential to achieving our common goals of a healthier body and mind. Unless we work together to align how we pay for care with our goals of integrating behavioral health into primary care, we won’t be able to create the health care system we deserve – and we won’t. be prepared to meet our mental health needs in the next public health crisis.

Blue Shield announced in November its work with Milbank to strengthen healthcare. A online seminar is scheduled for Feb. 24 at 1 p.m. PT.

Read the full story from CalMatters, published February 22 here.

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