Closegap is a 501(c)(3) non-profit technology company on a mission to improve the emotional and mental health of K-12 students.
Closegap is a nonprofit tech startup that’s created a free daily mental health check-in for K-12 students. Each day, students complete a developmentally appropriate and interactive check-in, which asks a series of questions about their emotions, energy level, physical needs and more. Students then have the option to request to speak with a trusted adult or choose from a library of self-guided, social-emotional learning activities on the digital platform. School staff receive alerts, a daily triaged list of their students, and data visualizations to spot trends over time. Founded on the idea that every kid needs at least one trusted adult and self-regulation skills to navigate tough circumstances, we’re working to transform the way kids are cared for and supported within schools.
Closegap is addressing the youth mental health crisis, and schools’ inability to meet student mental and emotional health needs. Youth anxiety, depression and suicide have been on the rise for the past decade. In 2019, one in three high school students reported persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness, an increase of 40% from 2009. The pandemic exacerbated the crisis. In 2020, there was a 30% increase in emergency room visits for mental health reasons for youth ages 12-17. Today, suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15-24 year olds.
Schools are on the frontlines of this crisis, and represent an enormous opportunity to strengthen our mental health safety net—most students (and BIPOC students, disproportionately) receive mental health services at schools. Yet, schools are often understaffed and under-resourced. When something is wrong, we don’t have mechanisms in place to catch it. Nationally, there are over 415 students for every 1 school counselor, almost double the recommended ratio. School staff are largely unequipped to monitor the needs of all their students or intervene in real time; it’s unrealistic that they can check-in with each student, and implicit bias can cloud judgment. Additionally, not all students feel comfortable asking for help. For this reason, many students slip through the cracks. Schools desperately need a way to gauge the mental health needs of their students both in real-time (for immediate individual support) and over time (for systemic support) to adequately address the youth mental health crisis.
Closegap equips schools with the technology and data to more effectively support the mental health of K-12 students.
The check-in is developmentally appropriate and backed by research from mental health experts and leading institutions, enabling schools to ask the right questions early and often. It first asks students about their feelings, needs, and challenges. Then the more foundational questions. Are they eating enough? Sleeping well? Is everything okay in their peer group? At the end, students are given the opportunity to privately ask for help from an adult or choose from a library of self-guided, evidence-based social-emotional learning activities, such as box breathing, shaking out parts of their body and making a gratitude list. Students learn to label, understand and regulate their emotions, and are provided with a new, direct line to school staff to express their emotional needs; this is particularly important for students who may not feel comfortable walking to the counselor’s office.
Check-in data enables school staff to monitor and intervene on student needs in real time and at scale; they receive alerts, a daily triaged list of students, and data visualizations to spot trends over time. Schools move from a disjointed, reactive approach when serious crises occur to a proactive approach to care.
Schools using Closegap have prevented suicides and uncovered cases of self-harm, sexual assault, bullying and trouble at home that would have otherwise gone unnoticed. The check-in leverages technology to bolster the current support system in schools—meeting kids right where they are, fostering more genuine connection between school staff and students, and increasing empathy and understanding. We’ve served over 200,000 students across all 50 states, with over 5.8 million check-ins completed to date.
Read about one school counselor who was able to help prevent a student suicide using Closegap: https://www.closegap.org/closegap-saving-lives-the\-story
“I open up my dashboard and see 14 kids marked as urgent. That’s 14 kids that I wouldn’t have known needed me. Closegap brought those kids to my office.”
— Melena, School Counselor
“Some kids fly under the radar, but with Closegap they have an opportunity to say something that they’re not saying to anyone else.”
— Katie, School Counselor
“When I submit my Closegap for the day, it makes me feel that someone is actually listening to me, or cares about how I might feel that day.”
— Jaylynn, student