PA Rolls Out Ed Digital Mental Services
Pennsylvania has signed a $3 million contract with Kooth – a digital mental health and wellbeing company – to roll out digital mental health services to school districts statewide.
Kooth’s services are “clinically robust and accredited to provide a range of therapeutic support and interventions,” according to a press release from State Rep. Aaron Kaufer. As part of the new contract, students will have access to three levels of care: self-directed, peer-to-peer, and a student-counselor connection. All levels will be accessible through a smartphone.
Under the contract, Kooth will provide its platform to 30 school districts, encompassing 100,000 students, at no cost to the school districts. Initially, the contract will run for a year, with a pilot program beginning in November.
If the pilot proves successful, the program could be expanded to additional school districts. The program is being offered to students in grades 6-12.
“At the end of the day, it’s about making sure the students in our communities get the services they need and deserve. I’m grateful that I was able to play a part in making this pilot initiative become a reality,” Kaufer said.
Luzerne County, Wyoming, and Wyoming Valley West school districts have already committed to the pilot, with several other districts considering participation.
According to the Federal Department of Health and Human Services, an estimated 20 million children in the United States are suffering from a mental health issue, and one in five children between the ages of three and 17 years of age has a mental, emotional, or behavioral disorder.
In addition, the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention have estimated that currently, only about 20 percent of these children receive appropriate help from mental health professionals.
“Providing for student mental health was important pre-pandemic and is paramount as our students navigate school post-pandemic,” Kaufer said. “I am excited that the students in our areas’ school districts will have access to additional resources to address their mental health needs.”