Alexandria City Public Schools launches new partnership to offer students virtual mental health services

The first day at school at George Mason Elementary School, August 21, 2023 (staff photo by James Cullum)

A new partnership launching next month should help Alexandria students have better access to mental health services, including free access to therapists.

Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) is partnering with Hazel Health, a school-based telehealth provider, to offer students telehealth access to psychologists, counselors, nurses and social workers. Part of the partnership involves access to therapists with no out-of-pock costs to families.

Students can be referred to Hazel Health by a member of ACPS’ Student Support Team (SST). According to a release:

Referrals for student therapy can be made by an SST member. Families may talk to an SST member in their school to determine if a referral to Hazel Health is appropriate for their child. A parent/guardian will then receive a call from a Hazel Health family resource manager and given the option to opt into services for their student and schedule an intake visit. The division’s partnership with Hazel Health makes it possible for its therapists to see students with no out-of-pocket costs to families.

It’s been a particularly fraught year for ACPS students: a new report shows that the majority of middle and high school students in Alexandria feel unsafe.

Though it’s a telehealth service, the release says it’s only available at school during regular school hours.

“Hazel Health therapists focus on helping students learn positive ways to cope with issues that affect their ability to be in school and available for learning,” ACPS said in the release. “Therapists provide brief solution-focused therapy in approximately six sessions to assist students with building skills to support their learning. The service typically consists of a preliminary intake visit and approximately six sessions.”