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City proposes using $1.3 million in COVID-19 funds to provide Talkspace therapy services for all Reno residents


The Reno City Council next week will consider an agenda item that will provide free mental health counseling to all Reno residents. The $1.3 million expenditure of CARES Act funding “seeks to provide a mental health tool to nearly 200,000 citizens,” according to city staff.

If approved, free therapy will be made available to anyone over the age of 13 for an entire year through Talkspace.com. Talkspace offers virtual counseling at any time, including online therapy, psychiatry, teen therapy and couples therapy.

The proposed use of the funds falls within U.S. Department of Treasury guidelines, city staff said, including using money for telehealth services. A World Health Organization report in May identified nearly 45% of Americans experiencing some level of distress as a result of COVID-19.

“From its inception, Council has sought out unique and significant ways to address the challenges the virus has posed to the community,” staff wrote. “This agreement allows City of Reno residents older than 13 years of age to access Talkspace services for up to one year at no out-of-pocket cost to themselves. The agreement seeks to accomplish each of the WHO recommendations by allowing access to remote mental health counseling services to all Reno residents … on a single platform.”

The city is also considering purchasing a mobile patient care unit for up to $400,000.

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