For Paula Ambrose and Ola Jimoh, working on the BlueSky youth mental health initiative is more than just a job. Deeply rooted in passion and purpose, their work is creating meaningful change for the mental health of California’s youth. Join us in learning more about their work as BlueSky Initiative Leads at Blue Shield of California.

Why is the BlueSky initiative important to you?

I am part of a care circle for a loved one who has experienced mental health challenges and know firsthand that supporting young people’s mental well-being not only improves their ability to navigate the challenges of life but can also give them the confidence to be their authentic selves and know it is okay to need and ask for help. Investing in youth mental health is essential for building healthier and more resilient communities.

-Paula Ambrose

One thing I love about the mission of BlueSky is that we are focused on reaching youth early, as many mental health challenges can start as early as 13 years old. This is important to me because we get to help young people understand what they are going through. Some of my family members have struggled with mental health challenges, and I think having access to proper resources, research, and education could have made a difference in many cases. We are equipping youth with the ability to advocate for their own mental health, nurture their relationships, and enhance the mental well-being of others.  I am seeing first-hand a transformative impact in peer-to-peer relationships among teens through BlueSky.

-Ola Jimoh  

Could you tell us a bit about the work you do as a BlueSky Youth Mental Health Initiative lead? 

20210509_152122
Paula Ambrose, Corporate Citizenship Specialist, Principal

We do our best to lead with equity and are dedicated to supporting access, awareness and advocacy – our “three A’s” – for mental health resources for youth, particularly youth from historically marginalized communities. My job is to cultivate partnerships that help us execute and maximize our impact against the three A’s. The themes of my day typically center around relationships. Maintaining open and collaborative relationships with our nonprofit partners to listen, learn and identify how we can best work together to accomplish our shared goals of health equity for the communities we serve. You can see our impact here. 

-Paula Ambrose

One aspect of my work involves empowering young people to advocate for change within their communities and environments. For example, our BlueSky initiative supports  Youth Power Fund and I work with this organization on how to best foster youth advocacy. We collaborate closely with nonprofits to align around common goals, engaging in conversations to understand their needs and how our Blue Shield dollars and BlueSky initiative can best support them. Last year, I led our youth social justice investments focused on community resilience in collaboration with Promise Health Plan. These investments supported 10 nonprofits to help them reach and support youth who are facing adversities and healing from trauma.

-Ola Jimoh

What do you love most about the work you do to support BlueSky?

There are many things I love about the work I do with BlueSky. First and foremost, I am supporting work that is helping young people not just survive but thrive. I also love working with our nonprofit partners, I’m inspired by all the ways they show up in love and care for young people, and the adults who care for them. Last but not least, I get to work with some exceptional human beings, on my direct team and beyond. Gotta love that combination!

-Paula Ambrose

Ola Jimoh, Corporate Citizenship Specialist, Senior

For me, being able to work with young people. Last year I had a chance to serve as a mentor to youth interested in corporate philanthropy, which was a great experience. Also being able to see how young people show up and lead the charge for their mental health — from wanting more access to counselors from similar backgrounds and communities, to advocating for more mental health days on campus. I love the ways we plant seeds early on and empower youth to make changes for their schools and within their families. Many of them are the first to come out and speak publicly about their mental health challenges. I am really inspired by their courage and persistence. 

-Ola Jimoh

How can others get involved in supporting the work BlueSky is doing?

Employees who would like to support our BlueSky nonprofits can do so via Shield Cares. Donations are always welcome. There are other nonprofits on Shield Cares who are also working hard to provide mental health support. You can also participate in our NAMI walks  to raise awareness for mental health and help reduce stigma. May is Mental Health Awareness Month and July is BIPOC Mental Health Awareness Month, so look for opportunities to engage – and share! – our stories on LinkedIn and other social media channels to help us raise awareness and combat stigma.

-Paula Ambrose

Donate if you can to support our BlueSky nonprofits who are doing great work. You can also stay up to date on our BlueSky website, where we share information about our partners and the great work we are doing together.

-Ola Jimoh

Inspired by Paula and Ola’s story? We invite you to explore Blue Shield career opportunities and apply.