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Gaggle and AWS collaborate to create mental health hotline for students

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Gaggle, a provider of student safety technology, is partnering with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to provide in-the-moment support for students experiencing mental health crises including anxiety, depression, bullying, abuse, and suicide ideation.

This effort combines the advantages of Amazon Connect, an easy-to-use, cost-effective, cloud contact center, with Gaggle’s ReachOut, a 24/7 mental health crisis hotline for schools, according to the vendors.

ReachOut is designed for immediate support for students experiencing any mental and emotional crisis. Students can communicate with a crisis counselor in whatever ways they are most comfortable—by SMS text, web-based chat or phone calls.

“We’re excited to work with AWS to provide convenient access to our mental health hotline to thousands of students nationwide,” said Jeff Patterson, CEO of Gaggle. “We created ReachOut to provide immediate support to students who not only need to be listened to but also advised by trained coaches who can handle crisis situations, hopefully preventing things from getting worse.” He continued, “At Gaggle, we want to do everything we can to help kids who are struggling. This new hotline is another tool we are offering to do just this.”

The latest research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 20% of teens reported having seriously considered suicide, and 9% have attempted suicide.

U.S. schools are doing their best to support students, but with staffing shortages and additional challenges exacerbated by the widespread disruption in teaching and learning, the education community needs solutions to help with recovery.

“Teachers and education leaders have long recognized the increased need for more mental health resources for both immediate and long-term care, and Gaggle’s ReachOut can quickly connect students to trained crisis counselors—whether help is needed inside or outside of the classroom, and in various languages,” said Kim Majerus, vice president, U.S. education, state, and local Government at AWS. “We are proud to collaborate with Gaggle as the organization scales access to mental health professionals for students at schools without a counselor, when school psychologists are overwhelmed, or during times outside of school hours.”

According to an Education Week analysis, nearly 40% of all school districts nationally, enrolling 5.4 million students, did not have a school psychologist in 2020. ReachOut aims to be a partner to school districts to increase access to mental health services to deescalate situations by providing immediate support to help students positively navigate the challenges they are facing.

ReachOut provides help to both students as well as concerned parents in a variety of different languages. Amazon Lex, a fully managed artificial intelligence (AI) service with advanced natural language models, enables conversations to be translated between 75 languages using chatbots.

The new program will be rolled out to Gaggle customers beginning this fall.

For more information about this news, visit reachout.gaggle.net or aws.amazon.com/education.

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