School-Based Online Therapy on the Rise
The increase in bullying and mental health problems among American children has resulted in an increasing number of schools offering teletherapy services.
This is due to the rising cases of bullying, loneliness, and anxiety among students which has forced concerned parents and teachers to look for innovative approaches for mental well-being support.
These include Maria Ishoo’s daughter from California and Valerie Aguirre’s daughter from Hawaii both who underwent disturbing experiences that led to their isolation and emotional torment.
Expansion of Teletherapy Services in Major U.S. School Districts
In response to this surge in adolescent mental illness, around 16 out of every 20 largest public school districts in America now have online therapy options available.
In total, these programs analyzed by The Associated Press were worth $70m that have been contracted between different service providers and schools.
The remarkable increase in teletherapy uptake reflects the rise of an industry dedicated to addressing the mental health needs of young people.
Meeting the Growing Mental Health Needs
Educators have endorsed teletherapy as a useful tool for rural schools and economically disadvantaged students because it allows them easier access to mental health services.
Many districts have reported successful outcomes as school going or home-based students connect with online therapists.
Teletherapy is seen as a preemptive measure that prevents students from falling through the cracks of mental health support systems.
Impact of Teletherapy on Students
Maria Ishoo from Lancaster, California observed a positive change on her daughter when she was enrolled into teletherapy sessions.
The girl started by being silent and depressed before opening up slowly to a therapist who equipped her with coping mechanisms that helped her deal with anxiety issues.
Similarly, Valerie Aguirre’s daughter experienced consolation during her online therapy sessions enabling her handle difficult social situations better.
Challenges and Concerns
However, despite the benefits associated with these new teletherapy services there are some concerns regarding how much care such fast growing tech-based organizations can provide.
Questions have been asked by mental health experts regarding the qualifications of therapists who tend to work with children and privacy protocols.
In addition, teletherapy jobs become very attractive due to their more flexible hours leading to an increase in competition for hiring school counselors and psychologists.
Expanding Landscape of Teletherapy Providers
For example, Hazel Health based in San Francisco has experienced rapid growth as it takes up teletherapy across various states’ school districts.
It has seen a large increase in revenue through big contracts such as one with Los Angeles County worth $24m that will help 1300000 students over two years.
However, this rapid expansion has sparked off discussions about whether children’s wellbeing should be the priority even amidst making money.
Government Initiatives and Collaboration
The government has not been left behind as it seeks to mitigate teenage mental health concerns.
New York City teamed up with a company called TalkSpace to give free telehealth therapy for teens.
This initiative which is funded at $26m over three years aims at democratizing access to mental healthcare for all teenagers irrespective of their status in schools.
Impact and Hope for the Future
With teletherapy, the lives of students have been changed in remote parts and places that have been hit by natural calamities among others.
It has helped many young people who are going through hard times by providing them with an opportunity to discuss issues such as being lonely, anxiety and academic pressures.
For both parents and teachers, they expect that the services would continue supporting students’ mental health needs, irrespective of their racial backgrounds.
Teletherapy has risen as a vital tool in combating adolescence mental health crisis facing schools today as distance education has become a popular mode of learning to help relieve young minds from the problems they face.