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"I'll be able to deal with my mental health better..." Local school district could use AI mental health app next school year

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alongside mental health app.jpg


CLAY CO., Ind. (WTHI)- Some new, helpful AI technology could be making its way into the hands of students.

Clay Community Schools just wrapped up its pilot program of an AI therapy app.

The app is called Alongside. Students have access to tools, like journaling, and can chat with an AI about how they are feeling. The AI bot can respond with instant feedback on how to calm themselves down.

Northview Sophomore Jace Deakins is one of 16 students who participated in the program. He said the app has made a difference for him.

"It really goes to show you," Deakins said. "Whatever the problem is, at the end of the day, it won't be that bad. If it is, there are some mechanisms that will help you cope and deal with what you're going through."

This is important as teen mental health continues to be in crisis.

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According to the National Institute of Mental Health, about 50% of teens have some type of mental illness.

Clay Community Schools Superintendent Tim Rayle said it's hard to get students the help they need. That's because mental health counselors are in short supply.

"They just aren't available," he said. "This isn't taking the place of that, but it's providing resources for our students in terms of self-help."

Rayle said school administration will still be alerted of any red flags in students' interactions with the app.

If the school board approves the program, students in grades 6 through 12 would have access to it.

Deakins hopes this is the case as he said he has learned some skills he'll use for the rest of his life.

"If I can figure out mechanisms now as a teen," he said. "When I'm 20, 30, 40, 50 years old, I'll be able to deal with my mental health better with what I'm doing now."

Rayle said the group of students found the app to be useful 90% of the time. A recommendation for the program will be presented to the school board on June 8th.

Multimedia Journalist/Producer

Caitlin is a multimedia journalist/producer for WTHI-TV. Have a story tip or idea? Contact her! Email:

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