State Rep. Aaron Kaufer (R-Luzerne) today announced that a contract has been signed to bring new digital mental health services to school districts across Pennsylvania.
“Providing for student mental health was important pre-pandemic and is paramount as our students navigate school post-pandemic,” Kaufer said. “I am excited that the students in our areas’ school districts will have access to additional resources to address their mental health needs.”
The service is called Kooth and is one of the world’s leading digital mental health platforms. Kooth’s mission is to provide accessible and safe spaces for everyone to achieve better mental health. The services provided are clinically robust and accredited to provide a range of therapeutic support and interventions.
Kooth has over two decades of experience in the United Kingdom and is looking to replicate its success here in the Commonwealth. Using online technology, users will have three levels of care: self-directed, peer-to-peer, and a student-counselor connection.
As a requirement of the $3 million contract with the Commonwealth, Kooth will provide its digital mental health platform to 30 school districts within Pennsylvania, encompassing a school population of over 100,000 students. The contract will run initially for a year and, if the pilot is successful, could be extended to include further school districts across the state.
“In addition to bringing new mental health services to our area, Kooth will be opening their first office in the United States right here in Forty Fort. The team will be compromised of 20 dedicated staff to include counselors, technology experts, community engagement specialists, and business development personnel, which will also infuse new jobs in our community,” Kaufer said.
According to the federal Department of Health and Human Services, an estimated 20 million children in the United States are suffering with a mental health issue, and one in five children between the ages of three and 17 years of age has a mental, emotional, or behavioral disorder. The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention have estimated that currently only about 20% of these children receive appropriate help from mental health professionals.
Kaufer, a strong advocate for mental health in the school-based settings, authored three pieces of legislation that served as the catalyst for this contract.
“At the end of the day, it’s about making sure the students in our communities get the services they need and deserve. I’m grateful that I was able to play a part in making this pilot initiative become a reality,” Kaufer concluded.
In Luzerne County, Wyoming Area and Wyoming Valley West school districts have already committed to the pilot, with several other districts considering participation. The pilot project will launch in November.
For more information, contact Kaufer’s district office in Luzerne located at 161 Main St., by calling 570-283-1001. Information can also be found online at RepKaufer.com