West Cecil Health Center receives grant to expand behavioral health services for Maryland youth

Conowingo, Md. (Dec. 6, 2022)  –  West Cecil Health Center (WCHC), a nonprofit community health center, recently received $375,000 in grant funding from CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield (CareFirst) to expand access to behavioral health services among youth in Northeastern Maryland.

In particular, the funding aims to address behavioral health disparities among at-risk youth, which includes rural youth, low-income youth, the youth of color, and LGBTQ youth. The three-year grant funds initiatives focus on the following:

  • Address root causes leading to higher prevalence of mental health and substance use disorders among at-risk youth.

  • Reduce barriers to access to behavioral health services for at-risk youth.

  • Workforce development to increase the availability of behavioral health providers; including, but not limited to, physicians, Licensed Clinical Social Workers (LCSW), therapists, peer support specialists, Licensed Clinical Professional Counselors (LCPC), psychologists, psychiatrists, care coordinators, educators, and other support staff.

“At West Cecil Health Center, we offer treatment for a wide range of mental health conditions, including anxiety, depression, grief, self-esteem, stress, adolescent health, and substance abuse,” remarks John Ness, WCHC President & CEO. We are proud to provide a safe space where young people can receive care and support free of stigma or discrimination, and we are thankful this funding will help us expand needed services to youth in our community.”

Nationwide in 2019, 36.7% of youth experienced persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness, and nearly one in 10 attempted suicide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Among lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth, 46.8% seriously considered suicide, compared to 14.5% of heterosexual youth, and nearly one in four LGB youth attempted suicide in 2019.

“CareFirst recognizes that behavioral health is an essential part of overall health, which includes a continuum of conditions ranging from severe mental health disorders to emotional, psychological, and social factors that affect a person’s overall well-being,” said Dr. Destiny-Simone Ramjohn, Vice President of Community Health and Social Impact for CareFirst. “We are proud to invest in 19 dynamic organizations that will minimize behavioral health disparities among young people and dramatically increase the number of trained health professionals that provide culturally responsive and trauma-informed behavioral health care.”


West Cecil Health Center (WCHC) provides high-quality, compassionate healthcare services for the entire family at our locations in Conowingo and Havre de Grace and through convenient telehealth visits. WCHC offers a range of services, including primary care, behavioral health, laboratory, pharmacy, and dentistry. Our patient-focused, collaborative approach focuses on whole health and empowers patients to establish healthy lifestyles. As a nonprofit, community-driven organization, we offer a sliding fee discount to ensure our services are affordable for all members of the communities we serve.

CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield

In its 85th year of service, CareFirst, an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, is a not-for-profit healthcare company that, through its affiliates and subsidiaries, offers a comprehensive portfolio of health insurance products and administrative services to 3.6 million individuals and employers in Maryland, the District of Columbia and Northern Virginia. In 2021, CareFirst invested $26.2 million to improve overall health and increase the accessibility, affordability, safety, and quality of healthcare throughout its market areas. To learn more about CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, visit our website at and our transforming healthcare page at, or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Instagram.

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Marlana Collins