(WTXL) — Telehealth portals will be installed in some Big Bend schools by the start of the new school year.
On Thursday, First Lady Casey DeSantis announced the installation of telehealth portals in 63 public schools throughout six counties in Northwest Florida to provide mental health services to students still recovering from Hurricane Michael.
Receiving the portals are Bay, Gulf, Calhoun, Jackson, Liberty and Franklin counties, and all portals will be fully installed by the start of the school year on Aug. 12.
“I was proud to be in Northwest Florida this morning to announce the installation of these portals that will bring the necessary mental health services that our students need and deserve,” said First Lady DeSantis. “While this is an innovative, 21st century approach and a promising start to tackling the mental health crisis, we understand that this is just one piece of the puzzle. We want to make sure that people realize that hope is on the horizon and at the end of the day this community will be made whole.”
The Department of Children and Families has been working with vendors to ensure the portals are ready for the start of school on August 12. Each school will have one portal in a centralized location as determined by the school.
After receiving a referral from a guidance counselor, and written consent from a parent or legal guardian, each student will have the opportunity to speak one-on-one in private with a mental health service provider who will assess, diagnose, and if necessary, begin to treat the student.
Parents will have the ability to call into the session via a mobile app or receive a summary from the provider following the session if they are unable to participate. This will be in full compliance with all HIPPA laws.