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California offers free mental health services for kids and families with new apps. Here's how

Angela Rodriguez, The Sacramento Bee on

Published in News & Features

“California law allows minors 12 and older to consent to mental health treatment, when clinically appropriate,” the department wrote.

If a moderator senses potential danger, a licensed clinical professional would intervene directly with the user or help them find the most appropriate external service to support them, the department said in a statement to The Bee in November.

“The apps use tools to flag any language that warrants additional review, and each vendor follows strict safety and escalation protocols if risks are identified by a user within the app,” the department wrote.

Why is California offering free mental health services?

In California, about one out of three adolescents in California experienced serious psychological distress between 2019 and 2021, according to a study conducted by the University of California, Los Angeles.


“As our nation grapples with a shortage of health care providers and a surge in youth mental health crises, we hope this platform will help Californians get the help they need wherever they are,” the department wrote.

As part of CalHOPE, the department also offers a free hotline available 24/7 for Californians of all ages at (833) 317-4673. Through the hotline, callers are connected to peer counselors for assistance with stress, anxiety and depression.

Californians can also get immediate support if they are experiencing a mental health crisis by calling the 988 suicide and crisis lifeline at any time, seven days a week, the department said.


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