ATLANTA — Any student in Atlanta public schools who may need help beyond the school building can now see a doctor or talk to a mental health professional, all virtually.
Channel 2′s Steve Gelhbach visited Bolton Academy and saw how telehealth is working to get kids better and back in the classroom.
A trip to see the school nurse may now include a doctor’s visit through a tablet.
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“If a child doesn’t feel well, they’re not going to do well at school,” nurse Donna Coleman said.
Atlanta Public Schools spent $500,000 this year, teaming with contractor Hazel Health, to provide the new telehealth service.
“First of all it keeps the kids at school and keeps parents from having to come pick them up early,” Coleman said.
Doctor Travis Gayles, Hazel’s chief health officer, said following the pandemic, besides physical health, they’ve focused on the emotional and mental health of kids.
He said they’re seeing issues arise earlier in children with an increase in anxiety and depression.
Even virtually, they work to link students to local providers that know the issues in that area.
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But instead of waiting in some cases six months to a year to see a therapist to talk through their problems, students can get help much quicker online.
“Making sure that time to care window from the mental health perspective remains in weeks, as opposed to months. We know the sooner we get kids connected to those services the better outcomes they have in the long term,” Dr. Gayles said.
The telehealth program is now in all traditional Atlanta public schools, just not in the charter schools.
Parents can get more information by contacting their counselor or school nurse.
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