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Baltimore County Public Schools Offering Free Teletherapy

Students aged 13 and up at Baltimore County Public Schools have free access to the online therapy messaging platform Talkspace, which will give them an assessment and match them with a licensed therapist.

Baltimore County Board of Education
The Greenwood Administration Building holds Baltimore County Board of Education headquarters at 6901 N. Charles St. in Towson.
Amy Davis /TNS
(TNS) — More than 32,000 high schoolers within Baltimore County Public Schools now have access to free, year-round virtual therapy through a new partnership between the district and Talkspace, the school system announced Tuesday.

The two-year, $1.8 million contract will allow students aged 13 and up to access the online therapy messaging platform.

The school system cited the nationwide rise in anxiety, suicidal thoughts and depression among adolescents as reasoning for the partnership. BCPS Superintendent Myriam Rogers said in a news release that the school system is “committed” to the academic and socioemotional well-being of its students.

“We know students perform better academically when they are healthy in body, mind, and spirit, and we want to ensure that our students have access to the comprehensive resources and support they need to navigate any day-to-day mental health struggles they may face,” she said. “By offering Talkspace’s digital modalities, like unlimited messaging therapy, we can extend support that students can access beyond school hours, year-round, at their convenience.”

To access the services, students take an online assessment and get matched with a licensed therapist, the news release says. They’re then able to communicate with a therapist at any time, though not in the form of traditional therapy appointments.

Students will also have access to online classes and resources through the Talkspace app, the software webpage for BCPS says. Additionally, the students will be able to receive treatment for common mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, chemical dependence and stress.

“We at Talkspace are proud to partner with Superintendent Rogers and her leadership team to deliver this groundbreaking program to the Baltimore County public school system,” Jon Cohen, chief operations officer of Talkspace, said in a statement. “We are 100 percent committed to delivering to their high school students mental health support that is convenient, confidential, easily accessible, and free of charge.”

The students do not need parental consent to utilize the service, a spokesperson for BCPS said. However, if they do not receive parental consent, they need to provide an emergency contact.

The software webpage says that providers will adhere to strict confidentiality policies

“They will not share any information about your teen’s care unless a formal request is submitted through the Request of Information (ROI) process,” the site reads.

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