Case Study: Reducing Trauma through Education and Support

The Cigna Foundation provided programmatic support for the Chicago, IL – based Bright Star Community Outreach’s (BSCO) TURN Help Line Advocates Program (Advocates Program) and Ambassador Outreach Program (Outreach Program) in 2019. The initiatives target ethnic and racial disparities and align with UN SDGs 3 “Good Health and Well-Being” and 10 “Reduced Inequality.

BSCO’s Programs are contributing to the renewal of Chicago’s most vulnerable and underserved communities and populations by addressing the devastating effects of trauma and violence. Inspired by the work of NATAL, an Israeli Trauma and Resiliency nonprofit, BSCO’s Advocates Program relies on trained faith and community leaders as well as mental health professionals to provide counseling services through a help line and other emergency support services. Notably, 73% of help line callers identified as women and 96% of help line callers identified as African American/Black.1 BSCO's Outreach Program works in parallel with the Advocates Program by educating individuals, organizations, and schools about trauma and its potential impacts.

BSCO’s programming is vital, in part, because the organization serves a largely African American/Black community. African Americans/Blacks have historically been underserved and marginalized and consequently, experience significant health disparities with chronic conditions, access to care, preventative screenings, and mental health. Notably, African Americans/Blacks are 20% more likely to report psychological distress and 50% less likely to receive counseling or mental health treatment.2 These statistics highlight the importance of the trauma-informed counseling, supportive services, and education that BSCO provides. Cigna is committed to eliminating health disparities by supporting the work of nonprofits like BSCO as well as research and advocacy on the subject.

2019 Impact Metrics:

  • Served 440 clients through the TURN Help Line.
  • Reached more than 39,000 individuals through education and awareness programming.
  • 73% of calls made to the TURN Help Line were from individuals who identified as women.
  • On average, callers’ distress/crisis scores dropped – as in callers became less distressed – by two-percentage points from the beginning to the end of a help line call.

1 This percentage is based on Help Line callers who chose to identify their race during the call. A small percentage of callers declined to provide their race.
2 Mental Health and African Americans. Modified 2014. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health.