PASCO, Wash. — In April of this year, the Pasco School District implemented a tele-mental health program to help students by Hazel Health.
“We’re really happy with how our implementation of Hazel Health has been going,” Alice Amaya, the Executive Director of Student Student Support for PSD said.
Amaya said when students struggle emotionally, socially or mentally, it reflects in their schoolwork.
“So in the Pasco School District, we really deeply understand that students are able to do their best learning when their social emotional and mental health needs are met and we know that it’s really important to remove barriers whenever possible to help our families access needed supports,” she said Hazel Health gives all students access to mental health care.
Students can be referred through their parents, teachers or reach out to a counsellor to seek treatment. Amaya said it works similar to an Employee Assistance Program; students get six sessions, but more could be added if needed.
So far, the program, Amaya said, has been successful.
“Since we initially launched Hazel Health last spring, we’ve had hundreds of students access this support and collectively, Hazel’s been able to provide more than 500 sessions to our students that have participated,” she said.
Since August of 2022, Amaya said 100 students have initiated tele-therapy sessions. She believes this can lead to better outcomes in the classroom, and at home.
“Students are prepared to be really successful in that learning environment so in that respect this is critically important for our students and our community,” she said.
It’s just one of many investments made in students’ mental health throughout the region.
Walla Walla Public Schools just announced they’re also offering Hazel Health’s tele-therapy as well. They even have a QR code to learn more about the program, or enroll.
Earlier this year, Lutheran Community Services Northwest received a grant to get mental health clinicians inside schools in the Richland School District. They also have teams to assess mental health crises, should one occur, inside their schools.
In the state of Washington, House Bill 1834, which was recently passed, requires school districts to amend their absence policy to allow students to take mental health days as an excused absence. A parent or guardian must sign off though, students can not excuse themselves.
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