Words by Tess Becker
Places across the United States are working to address a mental health crisis in different ways, like Los Angeles, California, which may soon offer free teletherapy to its 1.3 million students.
Los Angeles is the second most populated city in the United States with over 3.9 million residents. It also has the 7th highest cost of living in the country, meaning that for people who already struggle to make ends meet, and 63% of Americans do, living paycheck to paycheck, mental health services can be near impossible to afford.
The free teletherapy could offer aid to so many people already falling into the margins.
The plan is part of a new partnership between Los Angeles County schools and Hazel Health, a telehealth provider that has partnered with districts nationwide to connect families with licensed care quickly and at no cost. The plan will be on an opt-in basis with the 80 school districts in Los Angeles.
In California, nearly 70% of youth who’ve experienced a major depressive episode did not receive any treatment. The hope is that telehealth options will remove a lot of the barriers that prevent people from treatment, not only costs, like transportation and provider shortages or waitlists.
“Each student can typically expect an intake visit plus six weeks to two months of weekly sessions before being discharged from the Hazel program,” a spokesperson for Hazel Health told The 74. “The program is short-term—if your child needs long-term mental health support, we will help identify and connect you with options in your community.”