NHSA Launches Initiative to Support Mental Health for Head Start Workforce

Washington, D.C. – The National Head Start Association (NHSA), in partnership with Ayogo Health, is proud to announce the launch of Starling Minds Mental Fitness, a digital mental health program that delivers proactive, comprehensive mental health support to early childhood educators, staff, and their families.

Starling Minds is a leading digital mental health platform that delivers confidential, unlimited, and personalized training and support to help alleviate stress, anxiety, burnout, and depression symptoms. The program adapts support and training to each educator’s unique personality and learning style while integrating profession-specific content, stories, tools, and peer community forums into their experience.

“Head Start staff face a unique set of difficult and challenging stressors,” said NHSA Executive Director Yasmina Vinci. “With Starling’s innovative technology and deep understanding of educators, we hope this program will deliver the support and training to the Head Start people so they can care for themselves and their families, and in turn, provide the stabilizing services and care to communities across the country.”

Based on the principles of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, the Starling Mental Fitness program offers a wide range of tools and features, including an assessment, checkups, guided module sessions, short exercises, live training sessions, educational videos, and a peer community—all aimed to help educators identify negative thoughts, patterns, and behaviors and practical tools and strategies to better manage them.

“NHSA is an inspirational example of making mental health an organizational priority,” said Ayogo’s Chief Executive Officer Michael Fergusson. “The people who power Head Start play a crucial role, one that has never been more important nor more challenging. Supporting and protecting the mental health of our educators and their families is essential if we want our children to have the greatest opportunity to succeed in school and life.”

“Due to the demands of their profession, many early childhood educators tend to prioritize the needs of others over their own wellbeing. We have built our program to make self care easy, practical, and empowering for them to work on their mental health,” said Starling Minds’ Chief Executive Officer Peter Oxley. “We couldn’t be more excited to make Starling Mental Fitness available to over 270,000 Head Start staff members and their families.”

“This partnership represents a significant change in NHSA’s delivery of member services to the Head Start community, as this is a direct, tangible service designed to meet the needs of programs, their staff, and the family members of their staff at this volatile moment. NHSA is thrilled to grow our member resources in this new way,” said Vinci. “Educators are at the heart of our communities, and helping them proactively manage their mental health is crucial to the important work we do.”

To learn more about bringing this innovative solution to your Head Start or Early Head Start program, join NHSA and Starling Minds for their virtual launch event on July 21 at 2:00 p.m. ET. Register here.

Ayogo’s behavioral support platform creates value for human services, healthcare, and innovative life sciences companies by helping their clients become effective participants in their own care journey. Their “dynamic tailoring” technology ensures the support provided is personal, relevant, and timely, and based on each person’s unique psychosocial context. Ayogo has twice been recognized as one of the top 100 most innovative digital health companies and is broadly recognized for its progressive corporate culture. Learn more: ayogo.com

Starling Minds™ is a digital mental health platform that delivers immediate, unlimited, and personalized support and training for stress, anxiety, burnout and depression. Based on the principles of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Starling empowers people to proactively build the knowledge, tools, and skills they need to foster healthier life-long habits while removing the greatest barriers to accessible, affordable and effective care—cost, access, and stigma. Learn more: starlingminds.com

About NHSA

The National Head Start Association is a not-for-profit organization committed to the belief that every child, regardless of circumstances at birth, has the ability to succeed in school and in life. The opportunities offered by Head Start lead to healthier, empowered children and families, and stronger, more vibrant communities. NHSA is the voice for nearly 1 million children, 270,000 staff and 1,600 Head Start and Early Head Start grantees in the United States. ••• Media Contact: media@nhsa.org

In Recent News

NHSA’s Response to FY 2024 Appropriations Bill

NHSA is pleased to see a record investment of $12.27 billion for Head Start and Early Head Start in the Fiscal Year 2024 appropriations bill signed into law by the President over the weekend.

Read More

The Beans and National Head Start Association Celebrate Two Years of Success Improving Employee Retention and Wellbeing for America’s Educators

SAN FRANCISCO, CA — The Beans, a financial technology startup, and National Head Start Association (NHSA), a pioneer in early childhood development and education, proudly mark the second anniversary of their partnership to reduce stress and support staff retention. Financial stress continues to rank as the most persistent form of stress in America, with teachers…

Read More

NHSA’s Response to President’s FY 2025 Budget Proposal

Washington, D.C. – President Biden released his proposed FY 2025 budget on Monday, March 11, 2024, including $12,540,519,000 for Head Start and Early Head Start–an increase of $544 million over FY 23. Last year, the Administration proposed a topline of just over $13.1 billion for Head Start programs and began a methodical and much needed…

Read More