The University of Michigan’s University Health Services and Counseling and Psychological Services is partnering with online counseling service Uwill to offer students up to six free online counseling sessions per year, in addition to mental health resources offered by CAPS and UHS. Announced on March 6, the new partnership arrives as many students are suffering with mental health issues and as CAPS employees are asking for more support from the U-M administration. How does the campus community feel about these new mental health care services?
LSA senior Isabel Steinberg, executive director of the Wolverine Support Network, told The Michigan Daily the Uwill partnership will allow students to access counselors and other professional support more regularly, helping students who may have been previously unable to access private mental health care.
“I think (the University is) making great strides in the direction of letting students see a counselor on a consistent basis in a means that is accessible to them,” Steinberg said. “Private mental health care is very unaffordable so it’s great to see that the University is focused on making that accessible for students.”
LSA freshman Anika Deshpande is a member of CAPS in Action, a group of students who work with CAPS to help with mental health outreach. Deshpande told The Daily she believes Uwill creates more opportunities for students to schedule counseling appointments when CAPS is overburdened.
“I think that introducing the new Uwill program will allow a greater reach for mental health resources, because it kind of harnesses the power of providers from all throughout the country,” Deshpande said. “But especially when CAPS gets really busy with more requests to schedule appointments … Uwill would be a great way to get that fast, effective mental health treatment.”
Students have historically expressed frustrations regarding mental health care at the University, including long wait times for CAPS initial consultations and difficulty accessing more specialized mental health resources.
In an interview with The Daily, LSA senior Jacqueline Hillman, vice president of Central Student Government, said she has heard many student complaints about CAPS throughout her time at the University. She said she believes Uwill will help to address some of these issues by giving all students an opportunity to access mental health services.
“I’ve personally heard complaints and issues with CAPS since I was a freshman here,” Hillman said. “I know that it’s sort of become an institutional issue. So Uwill is a great way to not necessarily address those (institutional) issues, but provide some supplementary care, and also address groups of students that haven’t historically had a chance to actually access those mental health services.”
After using Uwill for the first time, Steinberg said it was easy to log in to the site and find a counselor of her choice. She said she loves the opportunity to consistently meet with the same therapist.
“You literally just log in with your UMID and in (Uwill) you have your 180 credits,” Steinberg said. “That’s six 30-minute sessions. I was able to go through and pick a counselor of my choosing. … (Students) want more than just crisis support. So I love that you’re able to see the same therapist again.”
Though Hillman said the Uwill program is a step in the right direction, she hopes the University will further expand its mental health services for students in the future.
“I think there’s always room for improvement,” Hillman said. “This is a really promising step forward, I really hope students utilize (Uwill) and enjoy it, and (the University) can scale it up even further in the future.”
Steinberg said she hopes the Uwill program will allow students to prioritize their mental health while balancing their other academic and social commitments.
“College is a time where students move away from home, they’re learning things about themselves or things about their environment,” Steinberg said. “And a lot of times, that means the beginning of their mental health journey. I think it’s really amazing for the University to offer opportunities for students to explore their mental health.”
Deshpande said she believes having programs like Uwill will help students put their best foot forward at the University.
“I think that (Uwill is) important because as a student myself, I know that mental health is really important,” Deshpande said. “You can’t perform your best as a student if you’re struggling with your mental health. Being able to access care from the University is definitely important.”
Daily Staff Reporter Miles Anderson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.