In this episode of Conference Connections, an interview series with K20 thought leaders, we chat with Eric Bell, National Director for Mental Health Solutions for Presence at FETC 2023, about PreK12 online Therapy and Evaluation Services. The edCircuit team caught up with Eric at FETC 2023. The topic of this discussion was student mental health, counseling resources, and leveraging online tools to support schools in providing mental health resources.
There is a lack of school psychologists in the middle of a nationwide mental health crisis. With a lack of professionals in the space and increased student problems, how can we make mental health resources available for students who need them?
“We’ve always focused on school psychology in the special education realm. What we’ve realized based on the mental health crisis we are in, we have the experience, resources, and capacity to utilize experts in the gen ed space. The reality is that it is such a gap in the need and supply of school psychologists.”
Presence Unique Positioning in the EdTech & Mental Health Industries
At the beginning of this conversation, Eric explores Presence’s unique positioning in the EdTech and mental health industries. Similar to other apps that provide mental health counseling online, Presence’s Kanga platform connects their providers directly with folks who want the guidance and support of a mental health professional.
What sets Presence apart is its access to schools, built-in functionalities for schools, and its focus on the general education population and students with additional needs.
The built-in functionalities, created specifically to fold into the school’s existing resources, allow for seamless integration into the school district’s mental health support systems. The problem with many Edtech tools is the challenge of implementing a tool. With Presence, integration is straightforward and gives schools the direct support they need to leverage a network of over 2000 mental health professionals.
Presence offers schools access to speech pathologists, occupational therapists, and behavioral therapists for students with additional needs to deliver psychological evaluations. Serving students with different needs has become increasingly difficult due to the staffing challenges K12 is currently experiencing. Leveraging Presence’s network, schools can ensure their students’ needs are met and not adversely affected due to the teacher shortage.
Balancing Student Privacy and Support
In the second half of this episode, Eric explores school feedback, balancing student privacy with support and funding.
A significant focus for Presence is balancing students’ privacy and the ability to help students through school-based support networks. If schools want their students to access these essential resources, they have to gain students’ trust that their information is shared in confidence with a trusted mental health professional. Vice versa, schools need to know if a student is struggling and have resources to support them properly.
The conversation closes with a discussion of Presence expansion into the gen-ed population. Previously the company has focused on only supporting students with additional needs. This expansion is an exciting time for the company, and its resources genuinely make a difference in addressing the youth mental health crisis.
How Technology Can Support Youth Mental Health
Overall, this conversation highlights how technology can address the need to support student mental health and how vital these resources are for schools nationwide.
For more episodes on Conference Connections, visit edCircuit.
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