La teachers, education support staff to receive expanded access to mental health care
BATON ROUGE – A new program will provide Louisiana's teachers and support staff with enhanced access to mental health care services, according to a recent announcement from The Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE).
LDOE says it is partnering with Ochsner Health to launch a virtual therapy program that will facilitate free mental health virtual visits.
More than 166,000 public school educators and support staff statewide will have access to free mental health virtual visits through Ochsner Anywhere Care – an established telehealth platform in which patients can connect with a licensed mental/behavioral health provider via a secure video visit from their smartphone, tablet or personal computer.
State Superintendent of Education Dr. Cade Brumley issued a statement regarding the matter, saying, “Louisiana educators have done hero’s work through a pandemic and one of the most active hurricane seasons on record for our state. They have been there for our children and families during this stressful year, and this partnership with Ochsner is one way we can be there for them.”
In a Tuesday, May 4 news release, LDOE stated, "Educating children and serving families during this unprecedented school year, while simultaneously balancing personal and family needs has taken a toll on Louisiana educators, administrators and school support staff. Nearly 40 percent of early childhood educators in Louisiana responded to a survey reporting clinically relevant signs of depression (Hechinger Report, Aug 2020)."
The news release continued, "The three-year, million-dollar initiative is funded by the LDOE through allocations from the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund (GEER) to be responsive to the mental and behavioral health needs educators may be facing in light of the COVID-19 pandemic."
The virtual therapy program for Louisiana's educators will cover four virtual therapy visits for Louisiana public school teachers and support staff at all K-12 school systems and early child care centers that serve children from birth to age four.
This includes all traditional public and public charter schools. Additional visits beyond the initial four covered by the program will be available at a discounted rate.
An Ochsner Anywhere Care virtual therapy session is similar to an office visit, but from the convenience of home via a secure video appointment with a licensed provider on a computer, smartphone or tablet.
During the appointment, patients will be asked about current symptoms, medical history and goals for therapy. Using this information, the provider will assess the situation and recommend a treatment plan.
Ochsner Anywhere Care is designed to be a private, secure, HIPAA-compliant tool that enables patients to consult with a provider online safely and confidentially.
LDOE says educators who qualify for the program should connect with their local school system for more information, including how to sign up.