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Dearborn Heights Schools offer free text-based counseling through app for students and staff

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Adobe Stock
Michigan Public
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The Dearborn Heights School District, District 7, has introduced a new mental health service available 24/7 for users.

The district is the first in Michigan to partner with a text-based mental health support app, Counslr. Counslr offers unlimited access to live texting sessions, each lasting 45 minutes, with licensed professionals matched based on their relevant expertise. There's no cost to the users and no health insurance needed. This is possible because Counslr partners with schools, businesses, and communities to provide the mental health service to individuals.

Counslr App

Kellie Finnie, Director of Curriculum and Innovation with the school district, said that because of social media, there's an increased need for mental health support.

Finnie said this comes at a time when there's a shortage of social workers and counselors for students to meet with, often resulting in waitlists for weeks.

"We have limited staff available to provide these supports to our students. So, this was a way to provide a resource for our students that they can access, as opposed to waiting to see a counselor, maybe in a few days, if not weeks," Finnie said.

Counslr is designed to reach people who would benefit from mental health support but don't seek it due to the stigma, inconvenience, and/or cost typically associated with it. The district's goal is to meet students where they're most comfortable: texting.

The company said 81% of students and adults who use the app had never previously sought mental health support.

The service is available to students 13 years of age and older. The program is also available to staff district-wide.

Zena is a senior at the University of Michigan with aspirations of becoming a broadcast journalist. She is interning in the Michigan Public newsroom.
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