- Hazard Independent Schools in rural Kentucky is addressing a gap in mental health services via an online program called Ripple Effects, and The Hechinger Report says access to the mental and behavioral health resource is being provided via a federal grant through the Kentucky Valley Educational Cooperative (KVEC).
- The private and personalized program covers strategies for coping, taking action and getting help in areas ranging from alcohol and drug abuse, child abuse, depression and suicide, eating disorders, bullying and sexual harassment.
- Browsing data remains anonymous, so educators can't see which topics were viewed by specific students, and referrals for mental health and poor behavior are reportedly down across the 70 KVEC schools currently using the program.
For rural schools, providing effective mental health services to students can provide a significant challenge, as mental health professionals may not be as readily available or accessible as they are in urban or suburban settings. The Ripple Effect model seems easily replicable, however — and the co-op's success with the program has resulted in plans for implementation in all 140 of its member schools by next year.
It's also worth noting that this is the latest example of the KVEC providing affordable access to services its member schools may not otherwise have been able to provide. The cooperative previously helped finance better access to expanded STEM and online teacher training opportunities. It's among many such district cooperatives and collaboratives that have helped schools make strides in recent years, as detailed in this year's Dive Award for Most Disruptive/Innovative Idea.