PR Newswire

Hawai'i State Department of Education and Hazel Health partner to increase access to student mental health services

October 18, 2022

Hazel Health

The Department is providing students with access to supplemental community-based mental health support through Hazel Health's telehealth platform at no cost to families.

The Hawai’i State Department of Education (HIDOE) and Hazel Health (Hazel), the national leader in school-based telehealth, announced today a new partnership to expand access to mental health services for K-12 public school students. The statewide partnership, which is the first of its kind and serves over 170,000 students across 295 schools, offers the opportunity for students to access community-based mental health services at no cost to families. The program officially launched in May 2022 and HIDOE is investing roughly $3.83 million over three years to support the platform that provides services to students.

Through the partnership, Hawai’i public school students will be able to connect with diverse, multilingual, licensed Hazel therapists to receive an assessment and, where appropriate, short-term, evidence-based counseling via secure video visits. If long-term care is needed, Hazel’s family resource managers work closely with parents, health plans, and community partners to help connect the student to local providers.

Students’ therapy sessions can take place while in school (where available) or at home, shortening wait times to receive care and access to no-cost mental health support.

“Hazel was created to address the ongoing challenges that students, families, and school faculty face in their attempts to access timely, high-quality mental health care for their children,” says Andrew Post, a lifelong educator and Chief Innovation Officer at Hazel. “Hazel will help to streamline the identification, treatment, and ongoing support for student’s mental health concerns, paving a path to improved academic outcomes and social-emotional development.”

The partnership supports HIDOE’s broader effort to help students gain timely access to mental and behavioral health services. Provider shortages, long wait times, and a lack of insurance coverage for mental health services[1] are known gaps to care. According to the 2022 Mental Health America report, 71% of Hawai’i’s youth with at least one major depressive episode are not receiving treatment[2]. While not unique to Hawai’i, this high need for mental health care is straining the system as it exists today. The Hawai’i Department of Health views access to telehealth as a solution to address these gaps.

By collaborating with Hazel, community-based health care groups, agencies, and other organizations, the HIDOE aims to bridge gaps in care for students and streamline the approach for families with limited time or resources.

"This partnership strengthens our commitment to care for the social-emotional, behavioral, and mental health needs of all students."

“This partnership strengthens our commitment to care for the social-emotional, behavioral, and mental health needs of all students,” said Heidi Armstrong, deputy superintendent for the Hawai’i State Department of Education. “The combination of school and community-based resources will increase access to affordable mental health services for all of our students and families, ensuring that every child has access to the services and care that they need.”

To ensure mental health access is broadly supported and sustainable statewide, Hazel has received support from the State of Hawai’i Department of Human Services (DHS) Med-QUEST (MQD) division and forged strong relationships with leading health plan partners, including Ohana Health Plan, Hawai’i Medical Service Association (HMSA), Kaiser Foundation Health Plan Inc., United Healthcare, and AlohaCare.

“We are very excited about this opportunity to partner and help support vital access to tele-mental health for our keiki at this critical time. This initiative will further the commitment to our vision that our children and the people of Hawaii will thrive,” Judy Mohr Peterson, Med-QUEST administrator and Hawai’i Medicaid director said. We look forward to continuing to work with HIDOE and Hazel Health on other innovations.”

It is Hazel’s mission to ensure that every child is seen, heard, and cared for, and to improve the quality of children’s lives. In partnership with HIDOE’s support, Hazel is offering specialized mental health in a way that helps to alleviate some of the systematic inequalities that prevent millions from receiving proper care.

About Hazel Health Hazel Health (Hazel) is the leader in school-based telehealth, contracted to provide services to over two and a half million students in nearly one hundred school districts across the country, consistently delivering successful outcomes for access and quality of care. Hazel partners with school districts to provide mental and physical health care services to K-12 students where they are–at school or home. Hazel’s diverse, culturally competent providers partner with parents and school staff to make the best care decisions for students. Hazel’s mission is to transform children’s access to health care because when students feel better, they learn better.

About the Hawai’i State Department of Education Hawai’i’s public school system was founded on Oct. 15, 1840, by King Kamehameha III. It is the oldest public school system west of the Mississippi and one of the largest in the country – 295 unique schools on seven islands, with more than 22,000 full-time and 20,000 part-time/casual employees serving about 180,000 students, their families and the community. Our vision: Hawai’i’s students are educated, healthy and joyful lifelong learners who contribute positively to our community and global society.

About the State of Hawai’i Department of Human Services (DHS) and Med-QUEST (MQD) The State of Hawai’i Department of Human Services’ mission is to encourage self-sufficiency and support the well-being of individuals, families, and communities in Hawai’i. The department’s Med-QUEST Division provides eligible low-income adults and children access to health and medical coverage through managed care plans. The QUEST program is designed to provide Quality care, Universal access, Efficient utilization, Stabilizing costs, and to Transform the way health care is provided to recipients.