Duval County Public Schools

How DCPS leveraged Hazel Health to expand the district’s mental health infrastructure and ensure all students have access to mental health care.
Updated
Aug 30, 2022
Published
August 30, 2022

District Goal

Create a safety net layer to ensure that all students can access mental health care even if the school’s existing mental health resources reach capacity.

Impact

Students received direct care through nearly 5,000 Hazel physical and mental health visits during the 2021-2022 school year; including over 500 students treated for mental health concerns.

Partnership

Deployed a 30-person team to implement both physical and mental telehealth care across the district’s 152 schools.

District Overview

Duval County Public Schools is the 20th largest school district in the US, serving Jacksonville, FL and the surrounding area.

  • 152 traditional K-12 schools, plus virtual, charter and alternative schools
  • 128,948 students
  • 68% students of color
  • 67% of students are economically disadvantaged
Hazel Programs
  • Mental Health and Physical Health (Whole Child)
  • Hazel at School
  • Hazel at Home
Funding Source(s)
  • ESSER funds

Challenge

  • 8 Full Service Schools (FSS) centers already established 
for mental health support

  • 1 school counselor for every ~1,000 students, which 
previously met the need for student mental health support

  • With the impact of Covid–19, FSS and counselor 
caseloads were nearing capacity

Goal

Create a safety net so all students can access mental health care even when FSS capacity is reached

Duval County Public Schools (DCPS) has long supported student health. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, DCPS established Full Service Schools, an initiative that “brings together community resources, neighbors and schools to promote the health and well-being of students, their families, and neighborhood residents.” Through this and other programs, the district had 130 school counselors already on staff at the end of the 2020-2021 school year, to support students as they returned to in-person learning.

However, district leaders quickly saw that counselors were reaching capacity for mental health support, due to higher student demand. Students who had not had mental health concerns before the pandemic were now returning to school in need of mental health support. DCPS wanted to create an additional safety net layer, so that if Full Service Schools resources reached capacity, students would still have access to mental health services.

"We have students who may not have had mental health concerns previously, but due to COVID-19, they now have mental health concerns. Some of our areas for providing mental health support are at capacity due to higher demand. Hazel is able to fill these gaps that we have, allowing us to avoid referring a family to outpatient care. With outpatient care, we expect the parent to make an appointment for the student as well as transport the student to the appointment. Hazel removes the barrier by providing mental health services within the walls of the student home."

Katrina Taylor
Director of School Behavioral Health

Partnership

  • 30-person Hazel team dedicated to district
  • Launched at home services district wide to give all students immediate access; rolled in school services out in waves over a three month period for a seamless implementation
  • Weekly meetings to monitor progress during first year of engagement

Hazel Health partnered with DCPS staff during summer 2021 to plan a successful fall launch. To support the district’s goals, Hazel put together a team that would uniquely serve DCPS, including an account manager, three dedicated customer success managers, and over 25 therapists locally licensed in Florida, who specialize in child and adolescent mental health. In September 2021, Hazel began hand-delivering equipment, including iPads, iPad stands, and medicine carts, to each of DCPS’s 152 schools. The program officially launched in October 2021.

While the need for additional mental health support drove DCPS’s partnership with Hazel, DCPS opted to implement Hazel’s whole child care program - both physical and mental health services. In addition to receiving counseling services directly from licensed therapists, DCPS students could connect with a doctor through a video visit, either at the school health office, or at home. Through this integrated approach, students could receive support for medical needs through Hazel, and Hazel’s physical and mental health teams could work together in the case where a mental health concern is surfaced through a physical health visit (i.e. a stomach ache that indicates anxiety).

In order to serve as an extension of DCPS’s Full Service Schools initiative, Hazel and DCPS established a protocol for therapy referrals that would seamlessly embed within the district’s existing mental health support infrastructure. Seven DCPS counselors were designated as referrers for Hazel once FSS waitlists reached capacity. In addition, students could be referred to Hazel’s mental health services through a Hazel physical health visit, or as a self-referral from the student’s family.

"We still are working with our Full Service Schools partners primarily [for mental health services], but when we have a student that has an issue, and can only access telehealth, they can sign on and make an appointment and actually have counseling sessions at home with a mental health therapist. It's helping with our Full Service Schools waitlists because we have a lot of students who need that service right now."

Dr. Dana Kriznar
Deputy Superintendent

Impact

  • 2,764 total therapy visits during 2021-2022 school year
  • Steady monthly increase in visit engagement; 1,000 visits in April 2022 alone
  • 504 students received mental health care through Hazel Health
  • 12 y/o average age at intake
  • 140 students “self-referred” to Hazel from their families
  • 97% visits at home

During Hazel’s first eight months in DCPS, over 500 students representing all grade levels were able to access and receive mental health services. This was especially crucial, because DCPS had over 1,000 more referrals for mental health services during the 2021-2022 school year than in the year prior. Throughout the school year, Hazel therapists provided direct care through 2,764 total therapy visits, in addition to around 2,000 physical health visits. The engagement with Hazel increased with each month of the school year—there was an 8x increase in visits between October and February, and visits increased almost another 50% during the last two full months of the school year.

In addition to serving a large number of students and extending the reach of school counselors, Hazel found that in DCPS, the average student age at intake for mental health services was 12 years old, two and a half years younger than the peak age for onset of a mental health condition (14.5). Through early intervention, Hazel’s mental health services could have preventative impacts for DCPS students.

While most referrals came to Hazel through the FSS referrers, notably, 140 students “self-referred” to Hazel from their families. This underscores that students and parents are recognizing their own mental health needs and actively seeking services. It further suggests that these families are looking to schools for services that they may not be readily able to find in their community.

"I was not familiar with Hazel, but now I feel very confident that Hazel will help my son through this difficult time. My concerns were related to my son’s depression. It went so much better than I expected. The therapist asked really great specific questions that pertained to my son’s case, and listened carefully to everything I had to say that has been affecting my son. I think it was a very pleasant experience. He was very easy to talk to and very understanding."

Parent of a DCPS high school student

What’s next?

During the first 8 months of DCPS’s partnership with Hazel Health, the district was able to ensure that all students in need of mental health support could access care they sought. DCPS and Hazel Health are excited to continue to partner together in the 2022-2023 school year.

About Hazel

Hazel Health, the leader in school-based telehealth, partners with school districts to provide mental and physical health services to K-12 students where they are–at school or home. Hazel’s diverse, culturally competent providers specialize in the health challenges of children and teens and partner with parents and school staff to make the best care decisions for students. Hazel is committed to improving health care equity and is available regardless of family income, geography, insurance status, or ability to pay. Hazel’s mission is to transform children’s access to health care, because when students feel better, they learn better.

Learn more at hazel.co.

About Hazel

Hazel Health, the leader in school-based telehealth, partners with school districts to provide mental and physical health services to K-12 students where they are–at school or home. Hazel's diverse, culturally competent providers work with parents and school staff to transform children's access to health care, because when students feel better, they learn better.

Learn more at hazel.co.

About Hazel

Hazel Health, the leader in school-based telehealth, partners with school districts to provide mental and physical health services to K-12 students where they are–at school or home. Hazel serves nearly 2 million students across 100 school districts, helping to reduce chronic absenteeism and unfinished learning by addressing gaps in health care access. As an extension of the school health team, Hazel helps schools immediately address student physical and mental health care needs. Hazel’s mission is to transform children’s access to health care because when students feel better, they learn better.

Learn more at Hazel.co/hazel-in-schools.

About Hazel

Hazel Health, the leader in school-based telehealth, partners with school districts to provide mental and physical health services to K-12 students where they are–at school or home. Hazel helps school districts address chronic absenteeism, unfinished learning, and school enrollment, by addressing gaps in health care access.

Learn more at Hazel.co/hazel-in-schools.

About Hazel

Hazel Health, the leader in school-based telehealth, partners with school districts and families to provide mental and physical health services to K-12 students where they are–at school or home. Instead of waiting for an appointment with a doctor or therapist, children can see a Hazel provider for a telehealth visit, at no cost to families. With guardian permission, Hazel’s telehealth platform allows children to connect with a health care provider within minutes, or a therapist within days of referral. Hazel’s providers can help with everything from allergies and stomach aches to anxiety and depression. With Hazel, children can get the care they need when they need it.

Learn more at Hazel.co/how-hazel-works.

About Hazel

Hazel Health, the leader in school-based telehealth, partners with school districts and families to provide mental and physical health services to K-12 students where they are–at school or home. At no cost, and regardless of insurance status, Hazel’s providers can help with everything from allergies and stomach aches to anxiety and depression. With Hazel, children can get the care they need when they need it.

Learn more at Hazel.co/how-hazel-works.

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