Premera Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alaska, University of Alaska Anchorage Partner to Promote Behavioral Health Careers

by Green & Gold News  |   

The office door for the UAA Psychological Services Center
New video series features UAA alumni to showcase breadth of opportunities and community impact. (Photo by James Evans / University of Alaska Anchorage)

Anchorage, Alaska – (November 2, 2023) – Premera Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alaska is supporting a new video campaign with the University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA) to encourage people to pursue careers in behavioral health, which includes care for mental health conditions and substance use disorders. The videos feature UAA alumni sharing their stories about their behavioral health work and how it benefits the community.

The Health Resources and Services Administration found nearly half of the U.S. population lives in a mental health provider shortage area. The impact of these provider shortages can be felt across the state. Studies found 36 percent of adults in Alaska experiencing symptoms of anxiety or depression did not receive treatment, while 62 percent of Alaskans age 12–17 with depression did not receive any care in the last year. With nearly 25 percent of Alaskans also facing challenges from substance use, the behavioral health care system is strained.

With the continued need for care, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported employment of behavioral health counselors is projected to grow 18 percent from 2022 to 2032, faster than the average for all occupations. The UAA College of Health offers educational programs to prepare students to enter a variety of careers, including roles as a therapist, counselor, social worker, psychiatrist or psychologist. The programs can take three months to six years to complete.

“Premera’s work aligns with UAA’s goal to meet the workforce and community development needs facing our state,” said University of Alaska Anchorage Provost Denise Runge. “We’re thankful to Premera for helping us spread the word as UAA looks to be part of the solution to one of the many pressing workforce gaps facing our communities.”

“At Premera we know that we can’t sit on the sidelines while Alaskans continue to face problems getting the behavioral health care they need,” said Jim Grazko, senior vice president of the Alaska market at Premera Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alaska. “We’re grateful to University of Alaska Anchorage for leading this critical work in helping people find a path to working in behavioral health.”

The support from Premera for this campaign builds on the relationship between the two organizations. In 2022, Premera invested in the UAA School of Social Work to bolster the pipeline of social workers by expanding enrollment and post-graduation assistance. Additionally, Premera committed $1.7 million to the UAA College of Health in 2019. The grant supported the expansion of UAA’s nursing programs and the Recruitment & Retention of Alaska Natives into Nursing (RRANN) program across rural Alaska. Premera is also a sponsor of the Seawolves hockey team. Through this sponsorship, behavioral health-related content will air during games to help reduce stigma around seeking care.

The first two videos in the campaign, along with information about the UAA College of Health educational programs, can be found here. For behavioral health resources and information on treatment options, visit

About Premera Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alaska

Premera Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alaska, a not-for-profit, independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association based in Anchorage, Alaska, is a leading health plan in the Pacific Northwest, providing comprehensive health benefits and tailored services to its members.

About University of Alaska Anchorage

The University of Alaska Anchorage is Alaska’s largest university, educating nearly 12,000 students annually. UAA transforms lives through teaching, research, community engagement and creative expression in a diverse and inclusive environment. Learn more at


Amanda Lansford
Premera Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alaska

Austin Osborne
University of Alaska Anchorage

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