In the Absence of Counselors, American Schools Turn to the Growing Trend of Online Therapy

by Madison Thomas
Teletherapy in US Schools

The issue of playground bullying has become increasingly prevalent in American schools, affecting the well-being of many students. Maria Ishoo’s daughter in California and Valerie Aguirre’s daughter in Hawaii both faced such challenges, leading them to seek help through telehealth therapy services. This solution has gained traction in schools across the United States in response to the escalating mental health struggles among youth.

Presently, approximately 16 of the 20 largest public school districts in the country have implemented online therapy sessions, a move analyzed and reported by The Big Big News. These districts have entered into provider contracts exceeding $70 million, highlighting the substantial growth of this sector. This surge in demand has given rise to a burgeoning industry in youth mental health services, with venture capitalists investing in new school teletherapy companies. Nevertheless, concerns have arisen about the quality of care provided by rapidly expanding tech-based firms.

Amidst the challenges faced by schools in maintaining an adequate number of in-person practitioners, educators argue that teletherapy effectively addresses the needs of many students. It has proven especially valuable for rural schools and students from lower-income backgrounds, making therapy more accessible. Schools offer students the opportunity to connect with online counselors during school hours or from the comfort of their homes after classes.

Maria Ishoo, a mother from Lancaster, California, vividly remembers her daughter’s struggles and isolation. However, with the introduction of a teletherapy program by her school district, her daughter began to open up during weekly sessions held from her bedroom. The therapist equipped her with coping mechanisms and techniques to manage anxiety, emphasizing that she had control over her emotions.

Trish Wilson, the coordinator of counselors for the 13,000-student Lancaster district, acknowledges the limitations of in-person practitioners due to high caseloads and staffing shortages. Teletherapy offers a viable alternative, enabling students to schedule virtual sessions promptly.

Students and parents have shared their experiences, indicating that teletherapy has helped them cope with feelings of sadness, loneliness, academic stress, and anxiety, particularly following the transition back to in-person school after remote learning. Recognizing the urgent need to address youth mental health concerns, many schools are using federal pandemic relief funds to cover the costs. Contracts are being signed with private companies or established partnerships with local healthcare providers, nonprofits, or state programs.

While the additional support is welcomed by mental health experts, they also express reservations. Hiring school counselors and psychologists has become increasingly challenging, exacerbated by competition from telehealth providers. The qualifications and experience of therapists, particularly with regard to working with children and privacy protocols, are critical considerations.

One of the prominent teletherapy providers, Hazel Health, started offering telehealth services in schools in 2016 and expanded to mental health services in 2021. The company now employs over 300 clinicians who serve more than 150 school districts across 15 states. Their significant contracts, such as the $24 million agreement with Los Angeles County to provide teletherapy to 1.3 million students, underscore the financial incentives in this sector. Other regions, including Hawaii, Clark County in Las Vegas, Miami-Dade, Prince George’s, and Houston schools, have also partnered with Hazel Health.

Despite the substantial contracts, Hazel Health emphasizes prioritizing child welfare over financial gains. Their expansion was fueled by $51.5 million in venture capital funding in 2022. Hazel Health aims to reach as many children as possible while maintaining high-quality care.

Other companies are entering the teletherapy space as well. New York City, for instance, has launched a free telehealth therapy service for teens, partnering with TalkSpace to provide access to licensed therapists via phone, video, or text. Unlike other cities, New York’s service is available to all teens, regardless of their educational status.

Hawaii has experienced a notable increase in teletherapy visits, particularly in rural areas, following the deadly wildfires in August. For families like Valerie Aguirre’s, teletherapy has brought about positive changes, with her daughter gaining insight into making amends and mending friendships.

In California, Maria Ishoo’s daughter has not only benefitted from teletherapy but has also grown wiser and now offers reassurance and advice to her younger sister, emphasizing the importance of ignoring unkind behavior from others.

The integration of teletherapy into American schools is a reflection of the pressing need to address youth mental health challenges and provide accessible support for students in an evolving educational landscape.

Note: This paraphrased and expanded text provides a detailed and formal summary of the original article, addressing the topic of online therapy in American schools in response to rising youth mental health concerns.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Teletherapy in US Schools

What is the primary issue addressed in this text?

The primary issue addressed in this text is the implementation of teletherapy in U.S. schools to combat the growing mental health challenges faced by youth.

How widespread is the adoption of teletherapy in American schools?

Currently, at least 16 of the 20 largest U.S. public school districts have adopted teletherapy programs to support millions of students.

What challenges do American schools face in providing in-person counseling services?

American schools struggle to maintain an adequate number of in-person counselors and psychologists, often due to high caseloads and staffing shortages.

How are students benefiting from teletherapy services?

Students are benefiting from teletherapy by receiving help with feelings of sadness, loneliness, academic stress, and anxiety. It has also been helpful in addressing issues arising from the transition back to in-person schooling.

How are schools funding teletherapy programs?

Many schools are using federal pandemic relief funds to cover the costs of teletherapy programs. Contracts are being signed with private companies, local healthcare providers, nonprofits, or state programs.

What concerns have been raised regarding teletherapy in schools?

Some concerns raised include the qualifications and experience of teletherapy providers, their ability to work with children, and privacy protocols. Additionally, competition for teletherapy professionals has made it challenging to hire in-person counselors.

How are teletherapy providers addressing the quality of care?

Teletherapy providers like Hazel Health emphasize prioritizing child welfare over financial gains and aim to maintain high-quality care despite rapid growth and expansion.

What is the significance of New York City’s approach to teletherapy?

New York City has launched a free telehealth therapy service for teens in collaboration with TalkSpace, making it accessible to all teens, regardless of their educational status.

How has teletherapy been beneficial in rural areas like Hawaii?

Teletherapy has proven beneficial in rural areas, such as Hawaii, by providing accessible support to students, especially following traumatic events like wildfires.

What positive changes have families experienced with teletherapy?

Families have reported positive changes, including gaining insights into problem-solving, making amends, and mending friendships, thanks to teletherapy services.

How does teletherapy integrate into the evolving educational landscape?

Teletherapy integration reflects the pressing need to address youth mental health challenges and provide accessible support for students in a changing educational environment.

More about Teletherapy in US Schools

  • [The Big Big News](Link to the original article)
  • [Teletherapy in Schools](Link to relevant information on teletherapy in schools)
  • [Youth Mental Health Concerns](Link to resources on youth mental health)
  • [Teletherapy Providers](Link to information about teletherapy service providers)
  • [New York City Telehealth](Link to New York City’s telehealth initiative)
  • [Hawaii Teletherapy](Link to information on teletherapy in Hawaii)
  • [Hazel Health](Link to Hazel Health’s services and approach)

You may also like


Reader123 December 5, 2023 - 10:23 pm

wow! Teletherapy in skools is like, so imporntant. glad to see it’s helpin da kids. need more of it.

BigBizInvestor December 5, 2023 - 11:06 pm

big money in teletherapy. hazel health doin’ it big. hope kids’ wellbein’ not 4gotn.

MentalHealthAdv December 6, 2023 - 12:31 am

yay 4 teletherapy helpin’ sad kids. shud focus on quality & safety tho.

ParentLife December 6, 2023 - 9:40 am

mah kidz benefittin’ from online therapy. transishun back to skool was tough. thankful 4 dis.

NewsNerd27 December 6, 2023 - 1:49 pm

skools strugglin’ wit in-person counslors. teletherapy takin’ over. got privacy probs tho.


Leave a Comment


BNB – Big Big News is a news portal that offers the latest news from around the world. BNB – Big Big News focuses on providing readers with the most up-to-date information from the U.S. and abroad, covering a wide range of topics, including politics, sports, entertainment, business, health, and more.

Editors' Picks

Latest News

© 2023 BBN – Big Big News