Behavioral health awareness is the real winner in Blue KC sports partnerships

May 2023

If it seems like sports partnerships are everywhere, you’re not wrong. They’ve become synonymous with sports and sports-adjacent causes and are impactful contributors to the physical, mental, and financial health of communities.

One of the big goals of Blue KC’s partnerships with Kansas City professional sports teams is to heighten awareness and remove the stigma of mental health in our community. During Mental Health Awareness Month, and as spring and summer play ramps up, so do our behavioral-health-focused partnership programs.

Shut Out the Stigma 

Blue KC, in partnership with the Kansas City Royals, provides financial support, resources, and tools to Shut Out the Stigma of behavioral health. Through Shut Out the Stigma, Blue KC takes a creative approach to investing in local behavioral health nonprofits by making a $30 donation every time a Royals pitcher throws a shutout inning. In the last two years we’ve donated more than $60,000.

The 2023 season marks the third year of Shut Out the Stigma, and we’re kicking it off with two new campaigns focused on mental health and youth athletes. Be on the lookout in the community and media for both.

Open Letter Campaign – After speaking with youth athletes in the metro, we put into words what they often are uncomfortable saying about the need to constantly succeed. At you’ll find the letters they wrote to parents and a conversation guide for adults on how to have positive conversations with kids. Plus, in a larger-than-life display, we reproduced a compilation of the kids’ thoughts onto 10-foot-tall physical letters. See them now at Mid-America Sports Complex in Shawnee, Kansas, and the Capitol Federal Complex in Liberty, Missouri, and at other locations across the metro this summer.

“Not Good Enough” documentary – Highlighting the pressure some kids feel to constantly succeed and the potential long-term effects, “Not Good Enough” mixes live action reenactments and interviews with parents, coaches, youth athletes, and behavioral health experts. The documentary will air in June on YouTube.

Sideline the Stigma

As a founding partner of the KC Current, Blue KC has used this platform to extend its focus on behavioral health in the community. In the second season of Sideline the Stigma, and as part of May Mental Health Awareness Month, Blue KC’s Dr. Raelene Knolla, Vice President of Population Health, shares her professional perspective on mental health among athletes on the Blue KC YouTube Channel. It airs May 22.