Accessibility is always at the top of our mind with college mental health. As we further into a digital age, interactions increasingly move away from face-to-face, and towards online, text, and video. While this brings some consequences, it is important to adapt products and technology to the new opportunities that come with it. Here at UniWellness, we aim to do just that.
The demand for college mental healthcare has increased every year, and it is difficult for many schools to keep up. As noted in another post, the national average use of counseling centers has increased by nearly 30%, while enrollment only increased by 5%. The average waitlist time is around 7 days, with some colleges having a waitlist of 17 days to 2 months. It is likely that the number will continue to rise.
Counseling centers need help. While more lobbying for funding and support is an obvious solution, this can take time. What else can we do to make counseling centers the best they can possibly be?
One approach is to implement outside counselors through teletherapy. College students outnumber therapists 1737:1 on most campuses. The recommended ratio is 1000:1. A big reason for long waitlists is because there are simply not enough counselors. Demand is outpacing supply by a large margin. And as with lobbying, it takes time to hire more counselors.
Counseling through teletherapy would alleviate this problem. Many schools already refer students to outside counselors, as the sheer demand requires them to. With this, however, it may be difficult for schools to know how the student is doing afterward, or if they continued therapy at all. Teletherapy enables schools to walk with students each step of the way.
Furthermore, with session limits being a popular method to accommodate for demand, this would give students extended and prolonged access to mental healthcare. Finally, teletherapy shows immense benefit to schools in remote areas, as they often have limited access to mental healthcare.
Teletherapy can also be beneficial for out-of-state students. When students leave their hometown to experience a new environment, they are often met with new cultures and ideas. While this can offer great benefit, it can also impact the student’s mental health if they are unable to adjust. Allowing the student to interact with a therapist from the same background and culture may ease homesickness and feelings of loneliness.
Is teletherapy truly effective? A growing body of research says yes – it’s as effective, if not more effective. One study found “no significant difference” between online and in-person therapy outcomes, with online therapy control groups reporting much more stable after three months. Another study found teletherapy to be both equally effective and more cost-effective in treating panic disorder.
Students are seeking mental healthcare in record numbers, and it is imperative that schools have the resources to match. With teletherapy, counseling centers are able to widen their net so that they can offer every student the best care. At the same time, we can continue to spread encouraging messages and lobby for more support to help reduce stigma and give centers more aid.
If you are interested in a teletherapy demo with UniWellness, reach out and we will coordinate a time with you!