All high school students in Baltimore County now have access to free teletherapy services all day, every day, through an online provider called Talkspace.
Superintendent Myriam Rogers said in a press conference Tuesday that the online mental health care is meant to supplement — not replace — the work of current school counselors and social workers.
“Our students sometimes may need support outside of the school day,” Rogers said. “That’s why Talkspace is a great partner for us, and that students have 24/7 access to any help and support that they might need.”
Rogers announced the pursuit of a partnership with Talkspace in late October. The services are kicking in now for the county’s over 32,000 high school students.
“It’s great to also announce right before the holidays, as we know a lot of times students need someone to talk to over the holidays, whether it’s been a particularly great holiday or one that is stressful,” Rogers said.
Students start the process by completing an online survey with Talkspace to assess their mental health needs.
“Important questions are, are you alone? Are you having family issues? Are you feeling depressed? Or is it a bullying issue?” said Talkspace CEO Jon Cohen.
Talkspace then matches the student with a licensed therapist that best fits their needs. Students have the ability to call, text and video chat with their therapist at any time, year-round.
“We’re meeting the students where they are, which is on their cell phone,” Cohen said. “We’ve heard from the students, and what they say they want is, ‘I want to be able to vent; I want somebody to talk to; I want it as soon as possible.’”
Students can also opt in to a self-guided program called Talkspace Go instead of pursuing more traditional talk therapy.
Rogers hopes the partnership with Talkspace will further help address growing mental health concerns among teenagers.
“We are truly grateful for the opportunities and partnerships that enabled us to expand our provision of mental health support for students in a way that is convenient, confidential, easily accessible and free of charge,” she said.