BeMe Health, a digital mental health company for teens, is working with Inland Empire Health Plan and Molina Healthcare of California to bring its services to teens in schools in two California counties, the organizations announced Wednesday.
Miami-based BeMe Health offers an app for teens that provides skill-building activities to support mental health, one-on-one coaching, clinical services and 24/7 crisis support. To make sure its services are effective for teens, BeMe built its app with the help of an advisory board made up of more than 130 teens. Inland Empire Health Plan (IEHP) serves more than 1.6 million people enrolled in Medicaid or dually enrolled in Medicaid and Medicare. Molina Healthcare serves about 5.2 million members in Medicaid, Medicare, Medicare-Medicaid and the Marketplace.
Through the collaboration between the three companies, BeMe’s mental health services will be provided across 10 local educational agencies in California’s Riverside and San Bernardino counties. A local educational agency is a public organization that is responsible for providing and overseeing educational services in a certain area. This partnership gives more than 72,000 teens ages 13 to 19 access to BeMe’s platform.
The next step of the collaboration is meeting with each school district to “come up with implementation plans for each district that work for them,” said Amrita Rai, IEHP’s clinical director of community behavioral health, in an interview. How the program will be rolled out will be different for each school district.
“I think all regulatory organizations are realizing that schools are where our kids are. It’s funny, we all knew that for a long time, but all of a sudden, it seems like in the last couple of years, everyone’s focusing on that,” Rai said. “The schools are getting bombarded with so many different things and we’re learning how to support them. How each school builds a model that is unique to their system and culture is the key and that’s what we’re in the process of doing.”
Helping students who don’t have access to a smartphone, computer or WiFi is another area the organizations are still working on. In some cases, the schools may be able to offer technology that students can use while they’re on campus.
Under the partnership, BeMe will be paid by Molina and IEHP on a per-member-per-month basis, said Dr. Nicki Tessler, CEO and co-founder of BeMe Health.
There’s a need for more teen mental health support. Recent CDC data showed that 42% of high school students experienced persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness in 2021. About 22% seriously considered suicide. Addressing the adolescent mental health crisis requires support from multiple stakeholders, Tessler noted.
“How do we reach these students with access that works? Especially sociodemographic profiles and others with equity issues that we know are up against so much. How do we break through that?” Tessler said in an interview. “It requires that level of engagement and partnerships. It will never be one stand-alone [company], it’s really team-based.”
Ultimately, the collaboration is about saving lives, Rai added.
“We are in a crisis situation that we’ve never been in,” Rai said. “When we’re in a crisis situation, what do we do? It’s all hands on deck. It’s not worrying about ‘this is your space, this is my space.’ It’s about all coming together and figuring out how to keep the ship sailing without holes. … If BeMe saves at least one child, this was worth it.”
The school-based partnership comes after another one between insurers and a digital mental health company. In February, L.A. Care Health Plan and Health Net announced a collaboration with Hazel Health for schools in Los Angeles County.
Photo credit: Bohdan Skrypnyk, Getty Images