SAN FRANCISCO, October 27, 2022 -- Hazel Health (Hazel), the national leader in school-based telehealth, has expanded to 14 states, reaching nearly 2.5 million students in more than 3,000 schools. This expansion means that more than 10 percent of K-12 students in the states where Hazel currently operates now have access to physical and mental health care at school and at home.
A partnership with Children’s Memorial Hermann, Memorial Hermann Health System’s pediatric network across the Greater Houston area, was announced last week, along with a strategic investment from the regional health system. More than 20 new school districts across the U.S. have also become partners in recent months, including in Nevada, Florida, Washington state, Georgia, and Hawai’i. The collaboration with the Hawai’i Department of Education represents the first ever statewide student coverage partnership for mental health services, while the expansion in Clark County School District covers 80 percent of students in the state of Nevada.
Hazel also announced today the closure of a $51.5M Series C1 funding round with participation from Tao Capital Partners, Owl Ventures, Firework Ventures, Memorial Hermann, and Carrie Walton Penner through Fiore Ventures, among others. They join Hazel’s existing investors Bain Capital Ventures, Centene Corporation, HLM Venture Partners, HopeLab, Uprising, California Healthcare Foundation (CHCF), and UCSF Foundation Investment Company. The new funding will support Hazel’s rapid expansion and allow for continued product innovation to address the needs of a strained pediatric healthcare system.
“We have been fortunate throughout our history to have an exceptional group of investors that are equally passionate about our mission of ensuring that all students have access to healthcare,” said Josh Golomb, CEO of Hazel. “They supported us to build a new model of care with the knowledge that while it would be challenging, our work would be groundbreaking if successful. We are thrilled to add new partners into the Hazel community, which now includes some of the most respected health plans, health systems, and academic institutions. This funding will enable Hazel to support our many new district partners, expand the care we provide for students, and invest in more technology and infrastructure to deepen our impact. Most importantly, it will enable us to continue to build a world class team of clinicians, educators, technologists, case managers, and other professionals who help us ensure students get the care they need every day.”
A Vision for Children’s Health Equity
Founded in 2015 by an educator, doctor, engineer, and technology entrepreneur in a rural community in California, Hazel Health began building partnerships with local schools and strove to provide pediatric physical health care to all families. Their mission was to ensure that all children, regardless of family income, geography, race, ethnicity, insurance or immigration status, had access to high quality health care so they could feel their best and ready to learn. Today, the cost of Hazel services are covered by a combination of insurance reimbursement, fees paid by partnering school districts and several federal initiatives which can be used by school districts to fund programs supporting students’ physical and mental health.
“Hazel was created to address the ongoing challenges that students, families, and school faculty face in their attempts to access timely, high quality health care for their children,” said Andrew Post, a former assistant superintendent and Chief Innovation Officer at Hazel. “Hazel helps to streamline the identification, treatment, and ongoing support for students’ health concerns, paving a path to improved academic outcomes and social-emotional development.”
Over time, the clinical care team saw that mental health challenges were increasingly manifesting as physical health symptoms, even prior to the pandemic when awareness of the youth mental health crisis increased.
“Hazel’s care team consistently surfaced underlying mental health concerns during visits, and we realized that providing physical health care alone is not enough,” added Golomb. “In order to truly address and improve attendance and quality learning time, we realized we must expand our services to offer whole child care - integrated physical and mental health care services.”
Rapid Growth, Driven by Post-Pandemic Demand + Youth Mental Health Crisis
In summer 2021, just as students were about to return to in-person learning for the first time since the start of the pandemic, Hazel launched its mental health services to bring direct therapy to K-12 students at school and home, offering both physical and mental telehealth services, covered by school districts and health plan reimbursement. Shortly thereafter, in October 2021, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and the Children’s Hospital Association declared a national emergency in children’s mental health.
At the same time, schools were facing staff shortages, especially to fill mental health support vacancies. While schools traditionally support students via health offices, social workers, and counselors, the increased need for care placed a strain on already taxed school resources. And many students—especially those from historically marginalized communities—faced a multitude of overlapping barriers to care.
“Mental health issues affect students from all walks of life, but students that the healthcare system has traditionally failed to reach seem to be the most impacted,” said Dr. Travis Gayles, Chief Health Officer at Hazel. “Finding ways to connect with all students, requires reimagining our current health delivery and care model. Hazel’s telehealth services connect students to a team of locally licensed providers, more than 50 percent of whom identify as BIPOC, specializing in pediatric physical and mental health care. Our telehealthcare model removes barriers that prevent students from accessing care such as insurance coverage, high costs, and inflexible work schedules for caregivers.”
Hazel rose to meet the need, and over the past year grew rapidly, its therapists helping students manage anxiety, depression, academic stress, relationship issues, trauma, and more. According to a one-year impact report also issued today, Hazel has added over 20 school districts, expanding its footprint to offer services in 14 states. Other figures for the past 2021-2022 school year include:
- Growing its mental health program into 8 states, offering direct therapy to students in over 20 unique districts, resulting in over 15,000 total mental health sessions.
- Reaching students in over 100 schools who live in rural areas that may lack broadband access and rely on schools for internet connectivity.
- Partnering with a diverse set of school districts to increase health equity - 63% of students in Hazel’s partner schools are eligible for free or reduced price lunch, and 77% of Hazel’s partner schools in the 2021-2022 school year received Title I funding.
- Securing several national health plan partnerships and achieving near 100% Medicaid coverage in key markets.
- Maintaining a 99% retention rate with partner school districts.
Hazel Health (Hazel) is the leader in school-based telehealth, contracted to provide services to nearly two and a half million students in school districts across the country, consistently delivering successful outcomes for access and quality of care. Hazel partners with school districts to provide mental and physical health care services to K-12 students where they are–at school or home. Hazel’s diverse, culturally competent providers partner with parents and school staff to make the best care decisions for students. Hazel’s mission is to transform children’s access to health care because when students feel better, they learn better.