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California Launches Two Free Digital Behavioral Health Platforms For Children and Families

The state of California has unveiled web and app-based platforms designed to provide comprehensive support to families statewide. (CREDIT: Creative Commons)


As part of California's CalHOPE program and supported by CYBHI funding, the state has unveiled web and app-based platforms designed to provide comprehensive support to families statewide.


These platforms cater to families with children, teenagers, and young adults aged 0-25, offering a range of services including one-on-one sessions with live wellness coaches, a diverse library of multimedia resources, wellness activities, and moderated peer communities overseen by trained behavioral health professionals to ensure safety and appropriateness for all users.


 
 

The Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) has introduced the Behavioral Health Virtual Services Platform, comprising two complimentary behavioral health applications accessible to families with children, teenagers, and young adults aged 0-25 across California.


These applications represent a pivotal component of Governor Gavin Newsom's Master Plan for Kids' Mental Health and the Children and Youth Behavioral Health Initiative (CYBHI).


 

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DHCS Director Michelle Baass emphasized the urgency of addressing the mental health challenges faced by children, teenagers, and young adults. She highlighted the launch of two new applications as crucial steps in providing accessible behavioral health services to California's youth and their caregivers.


Baass emphasized the flexibility and cost-free nature of these tools, stressing their availability to all California families regardless of financial circumstances, health coverage, or immigration status. She encouraged every young person and parent in California to explore the Soluna and Brightlife Kids apps to determine their suitability.


 
 

Importance of the Initiative:


There is a pressing need to address the escalating rates of anxiety, depression, and self-harm nationwide. Between 2019 and 2021, around one-third of adolescents in California experienced severe psychological distress, coupled with a distressing 20 percent rise in adolescent suicides.




Concurrently, the shortage of mental health providers across the nation is exacerbating the situation, resulting in prolonged wait times for appointments, particularly for community-based mental health services. This shortage disproportionately affects vulnerable groups, including the uninsured, people of color, individuals with low incomes, and those with disabilities.


 
 

Dr. Mark Ghaly, Secretary of the California Health & Human Services Agency, emphasized the significance of addressing this issue: “About two-thirds of California kids grappling with depression remain untreated. This initiative aims to bridge this gap by extending access to essential behavioral health resources, catering to the diverse needs of California’s children, youth, and families. Through this platform, our young population will have a readily accessible avenue to seek the assistance they require, thereby mitigating the risk of their conditions worsening and alleviating the strain on existing mental health services.”


The Behavioral Health Virtual Services Platform encompasses two distinct web and app-based applications. (CREDIT: Brightlife Kids)


About the Newly Launched Applications:


Recognizing the diverse needs across different age groups, the Behavioral Health Virtual Services Platform encompasses two distinct web and app-based applications. BrightLife Kids, developed by Brightline, targets parents or caregivers and children aged 0-12, providing tailored support for this demographic.


 
 

Soluna, developed by Kooth, caters to teenagers and young adults aged 13-25, offering specialized assistance to this age cohort. Families with children spanning ages 0-25 can utilize both platforms to address their unique requirements comprehensively.




Additionally, each app will offer coaching services in both English and Spanish, along with telephone-based coaching in all Medi-Cal threshold languages, ensuring accessibility across linguistic barriers.


 
 

Free Coaching: Live one-on-one coaching sessions with a trained and qualified behavioral health wellness coach delivered through in-app chat or video appointments. Telephone coaching will also be available in all Medi-Cal threshold languages.


Educational Content: Age-tailored educational articles, videos, podcasts, and stories.

Assessments and Tools: Stress-management tools and clinically validated assessments to understand and monitor behavioral health over time.


Care Navigation Services: A searchable directory and live care navigation support to connect users to their local behavioral health resources, including connecting users with their health plan, school-based services, or community-based organizations that can provide clinical care options and care coordination services.


Peer Communities: Moderated forums and programs to connect users with other youth or caregivers.


Crisis and Safety Protocols: Crisis and emergency safety resources for platform users experiencing a mental health crisis or who require immediate assistance (e.g., 988).


 
 

The introduction of the new CalHOPE applications marks a significant enhancement to the array of services already provided by health plans, counties, and schools throughout California. These applications aim to offer additional care options and resources tailored to the needs of parents, caregivers, children, youth, and young adults across the state.


Offering confidential mental health support for 13- to 25-year-olds in California, Soluna is your space to be you. (CREDIT: Soluna)


Ensuring accessibility and prioritizing privacy and confidentiality are paramount for both applications. They must comply with stringent requirements and adhere to all relevant state laws and regulations concerning privacy and security. Moreover, each app will implement robust safety measures and protocols to swiftly address any potential risks faced by children, youth, and young adults using the platforms.


 
 

Trained behavioral health professionals will actively monitor app usage to identify and intervene in cases where clinical intervention is deemed necessary. Additionally, users will have access to crisis or emergency services through the apps as needed.


Interested users can find BrightLife Kids available for download on IOS devices via the Apple App Store, with an anticipated availability on Android devices by mid-2024, and online at CalHOPE.org. Similarly, Soluna is accessible for both IOS and Android devices through the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. For further details, individuals are encouraged to visit CalHOPE.org.


In a broader context, CYBHI represents a pivotal element of the Governor's efforts to revolutionize California's mental health system. Through initiatives like the launch of the Behavioral Health Virtual Services Platform, CYBHI is establishing the groundwork and infrastructure necessary to foster a more cohesive, youth-centric, equitable, prevention-oriented, and accessible support system.


 
 

This approach ensures that young people can access the support they require when, where, and in the manner that best suits their needs. To delve deeper into Governor Newsom and First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom’s “Mental Health Movement” for California, interested individuals are encouraged to explore further.






For more science news stories check out our New Innovations section at The Brighter Side of News.


 

Note: Materials provided above by The Brighter Side of News. Content may be edited for style and length.


 
 

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