RIVERVIEW, Florida (FloridaToday.news) — As mental health continues to gain openness and awareness in today’s society, Florida officials are taking proactive steps to ensure students have access to the care they need.
Recognizing the impact academic pressure, peer relationships and social media have on young minds, the Hillsborough School District announced a new partnership with Hazel Health Services, offering free virtual mental health appointments for students in kindergarten through eighth grade, middle schools and high schools. schools.
For students like Idaniya Rodriguez, a senior at Sumner High School in Riverview, dealing with stressors at a young age is all too real.
“At a young age, you really don’t know how to deal with all these stressors because sometimes they can hit you very quickly,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez said she has experienced pressure on herself as it can come from academics, peers and social media.
“Social media definitely takes a toll on a group of students, especially those who are prone to cyberbullying or bullying at school,” she said.
Because affordability is a major issue, the Hazel Health initiative aims to address the financial barriers many families face when accessing mental health services.
Previously, students seeking therapy had to deal with the difficulty of finding therapists in the community, resulting in significant delays for urgent appointments. The new virtual system offered by Hazel Health allows students to access psychological support at no cost, both at school and from the comfort of their homes.
“Availability. Availability. Availability. You know, this is the main thing, right now, financially, many of our families cannot afford access to mental health services, ”said a spokesman for Hazel Health.
The District has recognized the growing demand for mental health services, as evidenced by over 21,000 students who were screened or assessed for mental health issues last year. Of these, more than 19,000 were referred for treatment, indicating the need for timely intervention.
“We want to get [mental health support] to them now so that they can address these concerns or issues before they grow larger,” the district administrator said, emphasizing the importance of acting quickly to meet student mental health needs.
Rodriguez and her fellow students are optimistic about the positive impact of this new initiative.
“I feel like this system will solve these problems and our mental health will improve over time,” Rodriguez said.
Through this groundbreaking partnership between Hillsborough Schools and Hazel Health, Florida has made significant strides in promoting the physical, mental and emotional health of its students, setting an example for other school districts to follow suit in promoting the well-being of their young minds.
Copyright 2023 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or distributed.