Thursday, May 11, 2023 | 12:00 AM ET

S3 Ep38: Normalizing Mental Health for Better Health—featuring Suzanne Kunis

It’s okay not to be okay; this is a reminder that mental health is a part of your health.

In this episode, Suzanne Kunis, Founder, President, and CEO of NovaWell and VP of Behavioral Health Solutions for Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield New Jersey, talks about her career’s work to integrate physical and behavioral health and the battle against stigma in mental care issues. She thoroughly explains how NovaWell and Horizon are trying various innovative approaches to behavioral health as they improve access and high-quality care. Suzanne also discusses how addressing stigma and normalizing mental health care would result in better outcomes for so many patients. 

Tune in and listen to Suzanne’s take on behavioral health to learn about the work she’s doing to make it better and more accessible for those in need!

About Suzanne Kunis:

Suzanne Kunis is the Founder, President, and Chief Executive Officer of NovaWell, an affiliate of Horizon Healthcare Services, Inc. She also serves as Vice President of Behavioral Health Solutions for Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey. She brings over 30 years of experience in the healthcare industry with a significant focus on behavioral health. Suzanne is a registered nurse and moved from care delivery to healthcare management early in her career.  

Suzanne is a nationally recognized industry expert and leads NovaWell, an organization born out of her success at Horizon. She was recruited to Horizon in March 2017 to develop and lead Horizon’s first-ever internal Behavioral Health strategy and team. Suzanne is responsible for all behavioral health strategic development and execution including the organization’s commitment to the integration of physical and behavioral health. Suzanne led the successful insourcing of behavioral health and a cultural and philosophical shift and commitment of integration within Horizon. NovaWell will be helping other health plans to achieve similar results. Suzanne is the ultimate behavioral health champion – the opioid crisis and continued battle to eliminate mental health stigma are priority items on her agenda and she works tirelessly to drive the message that “mental health is health” nationwide.   

Prior to joining Horizon BCBSNJ, Suzanne served for 22 years as Senior Vice President of Behavioral Health Services for Magellan Health Services. She was the business owner for Magellan’s health plan (Commercial, Medicare, and Medicaid) and employer-client relationships. She was responsible for oversight and management of nationwide service delivery including member services, clinical operations, network development and management, quality, sales, EAP, and finance. During her tenure with Magellan, Suzanne developed a deep understanding of the behavioral health care issues facing our country and the long overdue recognition of the impact of behavioral health issues on comorbid medical conditions.  


Suzanne also served as Senior Vice President of Account Management and Implementations for ComplexCare Solutions (CCS). CCS provided in-home risk adjustment assessments and care management services for its health plan clients. 


After graduating from Thomas Jefferson University, College of Allied Health Sciences in Philadelphia, Suzanne began her nursing career at the East Orange Veterans Administration Hospital. She then began a 12-year career journey with which was then Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey where she served many roles including Vice President of the Individual Market segment.

Things You’ll Learn:

  • NovaWell and Horizon’s alliance seeks solutions to help people access behavioral healthcare when, where, and how they need it.
  • Behavioral health can impact more than 20% of the total medical cost, which is why treatments should also include a behavioral health perspective.
  • Horizon developed a platform with tools available like educational research, podcasts, a provider directory, and assessments, among others.
  • Horizon established a program centered around identifying patients that need different care options. 
  • This program works with a community mental health provider that can refer them to get them the care they need.
  • Between 40 and 50% of adults have a diagnosable mood disorder.
  • 67% of people needing mental health care don’t seek it out because of stigma.
  • Stigma has historically prevented patients from accessing care. 
  • It doesn’t matter the condition a patient comes in with, we need to view it through a behavioral health lens. 


  • Connect with and follow Suzanne Kunis on LinkedIn.
  • Follow NovaWell on LinkedIn.
  • Follow Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey on LinkedIn.
  • Discover the NovaWell Website!
  • Visit the Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey Website!


Suzanne KunisVP, Behavioral Health Solutions, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey

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