UnitedHealthcare Commits $1.5 Million to Enhance School-Based Health Care Services Throughout Iowa

UnitedHealthcare Community & State of Iowa Allocates $1.5 Million to Enhance School-Based Mental Health Care Services

UnitedHealthcare Community & State of Iowa has unveiled a $1.5 million investment aimed at bolstering school-based telehealth services to broaden access to mental health care for K-12 students across Iowa.

This funding will empower Hazel Health, a telehealth provider specializing in school-based solutions, with the necessary resources to collaborate with school systems and construct the technological framework required to deliver high-quality mental health services to students, both at school and at home.

Dr. Brian Masterson, senior behavioral health medical director of UnitedHealth Group, the parent company of UnitedHealthcare, emphasized the pivotal role of good mental health in students’ overall wellbeing and their ability to thrive academically and personally. He noted that offering virtual mental health services in schools facilitates access to care for children, while eliminating barriers such as transportation and scheduling difficulties.

The investment is set to benefit approximately 100,000 students in historically underserved and rural communities, constituting nearly 21% of all K-12 students in Iowa.

Upon completion of the technological infrastructure, Hazel Health therapists will be available in schools to devise personalized, evidence-based, age-appropriate programs for each K-12 student they serve.

In recent years, there has been a notable rise in certain mental health disorders among youth, including depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation, with suicide ranking as the second leading cause of death among Iowans aged 5-24.

Josh Golomb, CEO of Hazel Health, stressed the importance of forging cross-sector partnerships to integrate health care access points directly into the K-12 education system. He highlighted schools’ pivotal role in identifying unmet mental health needs among children, connecting them to timely interventions, and bridging their families to the broader health care ecosystem amidst the growing youth mental health crisis.

Following the initial phase of infrastructure development, therapists will commence delivering mental health services to students starting in August. Confirmed districts where the services will be offered include Des Moines, Council Bluffs, and Cedar Rapids. Additional districts in urban and rural areas of the state will be included throughout the summer.

UnitedHealthcare, which employs over 1,400 people in Iowa, serves more than 450,000 individuals across the state enrolled in employer-sponsored, Medicare Advantage, and Dual Special Needs plans, boasting a network of 126 hospitals and approximately 21,483 physicians and other care providers.

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