17 Ky. schools have free online mental health wellness course

More than 1,500 students in 17 Kentucky schools recently gained access to a free digital course on mental wellness, provided by the Medicaid program of Anthem Inc., one of the health insurers that manages the federal-state health program in Kentucky.

The 17 schools in the program are Clay County Middle School, Daviess County High School, Estill County High School, Grant County Middle School, Graves County High School, Grayson County Middle School, Hazard Middle School, Henderson County High School, Bazzell Middle School in Allen County, Jenkins Independent School in Letcher County, Lewis County Central Elementary School, Marion County High School, Murray Middle School in Calloway County, Ohio County Middle School, Owensboro Middle School, Russell High School in Greenup County and Webster County High School.

The program has been launched in these schools and will continue into the 2024-25 academic school year, according to Quin Welch, media contact for Anthem Medicaid.

Understanding Mental Wellness” is a course for students in grades 8, 9 and 10. It has six 15-minute lessons, according to Blackbaud, the digital-services firm that designed the course.

Anthem says the course exposes students “to the experiences of others in order to develop awareness and empathy, reduce stigma, and provide facts on the prevalence and symptoms of mental health conditions.”

Students then “explore their own mental health, identify challenges they may face, and develop concrete strategies for managing those challenges while increasing their awareness of resources and empowering them with the knowledge, skills, and language necessary to identify and support a peer in need or at risk.”

Ladd reports, “Online previews of the course show a tour of mental health through the program, starting with a lesson on what mental health is and ending with the chance to create a personal wellness plan.

“Since the onset of Covid-19, mental health has worsened. In 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that sadness and hopelessness had increased from pre-pandemic levels, especially for teen girls. In 2017, 41% of female high school students and 21% of male high school students felt sad or hopeless. By 2021, those statistics were at 57% and 29%, respectively.”

“Young people need resources and education from trusted sources to protect their mental health,” said Leon Lamoreaux, market president for Anthem Medicaid. He said the program “will help us reach students from all over the Commonwealth and equip them with tools and strategies that will make a positive difference in their lives for years to come.”

Tom Davidson, the CEO of Everfi, said the goal of the program is to help “those who are impacted by mental-health challenges, those who want to build and maintain positive mental health and those who have the opportunity to positively impact the mental health of a friend or peer.”

Kentucky Health News is an independent news service of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, based in the School of Journalism and Media at the University of Kentucky, with support from the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky.

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