LDOE/Ochsner Health to offer virtual therapy programs to public school teachers, staffs

Education

(AP Photo/Jean-Francois Badias, File)

BATON ROUGE, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Like all Louisianans over the past year, public school teachers, support staff and administrators, have dealt with the pandemic, hurricanes and the February winter storm that devastated the state.

State Superintendent of Schools Dr. Cade Brumley said, “Educating children and serving families during this unprecedented school year, while simultaneously balancing personal and family needs has taken a toll on Louisiana educators, administrators and school support staff.”

Nearly 40% of early childhood educators in Louisiana responded to a survey reporting clinically relevant signs of depression (Hechinger Report, Aug 2020).

Recognizing the need for support, a partnership between LDOE and Ochsner Health to launch a virtual therapy program to provide access to free mental health virtual visits has been launched.

The three-year, million-dollar initiative is funded by the LDOE through allocations from the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund (GEER) to be responsive to the mental and behavioral health needs educators may be facing in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

More than 166,000 public school educators and support staff statewide will have access to free mental health virtual visits through Ochsner Anywhere Care – an established telehealth platform in which patients can connect with a licensed mental/behavioral health provider via a secure video visit from their smartphone, tablet or personal computer.

The virtual therapy program for Louisiana educators will cover four virtual therapy visits for Louisiana public school teachers and support staff at all K-12 school systems, early childcare centers that serve children from birth to age 4. Included are all traditional public and public charter schools.

Additional visits beyond the initial four covered by the program will be available at a discounted rate.

Designed to be a private, secure, HIPAA-compliant tool that enables patients to consult with a provider online safely and confidentially, an Ochsner Anywhere Care virtual therapy session is similar to an office visit, but from the convenience of home via a secure video appointment with a licensed provider on a computer, smartphone or tablet.

During the appointment, patients will be asked about current symptoms, medical history and goals for therapy. Using this information, the provider will assess the situation and recommend a treatment plan.

Virtual therapy visits offer options for a variety of appointments, including addressing pandemic-related stress or other behavioral health issues such as grief and loss counseling, post-traumatic stress disorder, eating disorders and insomnia.

Through the platform, individuals can browse provider profiles and select a clinician that best serves their needs, including searching by language. Convenient appointments are available Monday – Saturdays for participating teachers, and staff. Recurring appointments can be made with the same provider.

Brumley said, “Louisiana educators have done heroes’ work through a pandemic and one of the most active hurricane seasons on record for our state.”  

“They have been there for our children and families during this stressful year, and this partnership with Ochsner is one way we can be there for them.”

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards agreed. “It is critically important that the state provide mental and emotional support for our teachers and support staffs who unselfishly give so much of themselves to ensure that education continues for our students during this unprecedented pandemic,” he said.

 “The Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund (GEER) is being used to fund the partnership between the Louisiana Department of Education and Ochsner, and I’m grateful that we are able to support our education workforce,” Edwards said.

An Ochsner Anywhere Care virtual therapy session is similar to an office visit, but from the convenience of home via a secure video appointment with a licensed provider on a computer, smartphone or tablet. During the appointment, patients will be asked about current symptoms, medical history and goals for therapy. Using this information, the provider will assess the situation and recommend a treatment plan. Ochsner Anywhere Care is designed to be a private, secure, HIPAA-compliant tool that enables patients to consult with a provider online safely and confidentially. 

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