Ohio recently launched a telehealth pilot project in Monroe County to connect K-12 students with mental health counselors in the Switzerland School District.
The program will eliminate a 60-minute commute to mental health counseling.
The district was chosen because it is rural, has inadequate cell phone coverage, little mental health care, and experienced three suicides within students’ families and several suicide attempts. The district contracts with two mental health counselors to offer in-person services to students, but it can take as long as an hour for the counselors to travel between schools.
The Ohio Academic Resource Network connects eight schools in the Switzerland of Ohio district through a fiber-optic connection. Schools would use this network to create a live video and audio feed to the district’s two counselors.
A second phase of the project, scheduled for next year, will connect the school’s existing fiber-optic network to the offices of other mental health professionals. The additional fiber-optic lines might be accessible to the general public and could provide telehealth services to the entire community.
The goal of the project is to develop a model that eventually can be used to offer telehealth services across the state, providing all districts with mental health services.