LibraryMedical EducationUnitedHealthcare Invests $1.5 Million to Expand School-Based Health Care Services

UnitedHealthcare Invests $1.5 Million to Expand School-Based Health Care Services

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June 2024- UnitedHealthcare Community & State of Iowa has announced a $1.5 million investment in school-based telehealth to expand access to mental health care for K-12 students in Iowa.

This funding will give Hazel Health, a telehealth provider that focuses on school-based solutions, the resources needed to partner with school systems and build the technological infrastructure required to bring quality mental health services to where students spend most of their day — school and home.

“Helping students achieve good mental health is essential for their overall wellbeing and influences their ability to succeed in school and life,” said Dr. Brian Masterson, senior behavioral health medical director of UnitedHealth Group, parent company of UnitedHealthcare. “Providing virtual mental health services in schools supports access to care for children who need it, while removing obstacles such as transportation and appointments scheduling difficulties.”

The investment will impact approximately 100,000 students in historically underserved and rural communities, which represents nearly 21% of all K-12 students in Iowa.

When the technological infrastructure is installed, schools will have Hazel Health therapists available to create personalized, evidence-based, age-appropriate programs for each K-12 student they serve.

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In recent years, there have been significant increases in certain mental health disorders in youth, including depression, anxiety and suicidal ideation. In fact, suicide is the second largest case of death among Iowans ages 5-24.

“Ninety-five percent of kids spend most of their waking hours at school. To support young people where they are, we must forge cross-sector partnerships that integrate health care access points directly into the K-12 education system,” said Josh Golomb, CEO of Hazel Health. “Amid today’s growing youth mental health crisis, schools can play a pivotal role in identifying unmet mental health needs among our children, connecting them to timely interventions before they reach a crisis point, and bridging their families to the broader health care ecosystem.”

After the first phase of infrastructure building, therapists will start providing mental health services to students in August. Confirmed districts where the services will be provided include Des Moines, Council Bluffs and Cedar Rapids. They will add additional districts in urban and rural areas of the state throughout the summer.

UnitedHealthcare employs over 1,400 people in Iowa. The company serves more than 450,000 people across the state enrolled in employer-sponsored, Medicare Advantage and Dual Special Needs plans with a network of 126 hospitals and approximately 21,483 physicians and other care providers.

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