Roanoke City Schools working to bridge gap in mental health care

They partnered with Hazel Health to provide free services for students

ROANOKE, Va. – Breaking down barriers - that’s what Roanoke City Schools hopes to do when it comes to the stigma surrounding mental health care.

“Everyone needs a little support sometimes,” Superintendent Verletta White said.

The school system announced a partnership with Hazel Health to give students virtual mental healthcare services.

Funded through the American Rescue Plan, White tells 10 News these services come at no cost to the students.

“Our students don’t have to pay anything for this service and we’re proud of that,” she said.

The partnership comes after requests from students in the district.

“Our students spoke to me directly, and they said, ‘We need access to more mental health services,’” White said.

Students can speak directly with a licensed therapist online.

White said the need for care is great, with the potential to address student performance and attendance.

“When our students feel emotionally well, socially well, psychologically well, they’re more likely to do better in school, they’re more likely to come to school and they’re more likely to thrive,” she said.

The service also allows the school to address trauma-related issues for students.

“Whether or not a child has trauma from seeing some sort of violence, gun violence, domestic violence or has experienced other kinds of trauma, death of a loved one or any kind of loss - these services are so critical to them,” she said.

Hazel Health also has therapists available in multiple languages, addressing a large student population in Roanoke City.

“We want all of our students regardless of any language or socioeconomic status to be able to get the help that they need,” White said.

White said 18 students from 12 different schools have utilized the program since it launched last week.

“It’s about wholeness, it’s about wellness overall,” she said.

Roanoke City School officials said they are working to add physical telehealth services through Hazel Health soon. You can read more about Hazel Health here.

About the Author:

Abbie Coleman officially joined the WSLS 10 News team in January 2023.