A free mental health counseling program initially rolled out in September for health care workers is now being expanded to help K-12 teachers, the University of St. Thomas announced Jan. 7.

The university's Healing Our Heroes program offers free mental health services from counselors in training through a HIPAA-compliant telehealth platform. The trainees are supervised by UST staff.

“Teachers are highly impacted in their daily work by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Dr. Grant Sasse, Healing Our Heroes clinic director, said in a news release. “Like healthcare and frontline workers, they are experiencing much higher levels of stress and fatigue due to the difficulties of adapting to the new teaching demands brought on by the pandemic. Teachers, like healthcare and frontline workers, are heroes. They belong within our Healing our Heroes Initiative."

The university said it is also in talks to expand the service to firefighters.

Sessions begin Jan. 11 and are offered Tuesdays,Thursdays and Fridays through May. Appointments can be arranged by calling 713-525-3879.