The University of Michigan’s Department of Student Life announced that new counseling services are now available to students seeking mental health support in an email to the campus community Monday morning. The email was co-signed by Dr. Robert Ernst, U-M chief health officer, Dr. Lindsey Mortenson, U-M chief mental health officer, and Todd Sevig, Counseling and Psychology Services director. According to the email, the new mental health initiatives were developed in response to student desires for more mental health resources on campus.
“We have heard you and could not agree more: student mental health matters,” the email read. “Mental health affects the way you feel, think, act and experience the world around you. Sometimes it can be hard to find support — stigma, cost, scheduling and more can seem insurmountable to many.”
According to the email, CAPS and University Health Service are now partnered with Uwill, a teletherapy service that specifically works with colleges and universities to help students with mental health issues without a referral. Under the new plan, U-M students are entitled to six free counseling appointments a year through Uwill.
Students can choose between video, phone or messaging formats for their counseling sessions. Through Uwill’s website, they can choose from a list of mental healthcare professionals from all across the country to meet with at a time of day that is convenient for them — including at night or on weekends.
“Uwill is the latest addition to the University’s mental health services already in place, including through CAPS and UHS, where U-M counselors and clinicians continue to be available,” the email read.
In an interview with The Michigan Daily, Mortenson said the University hopes Uwill can help fill any gaps in access to mental health services by providing care to students while they are away from campus and increasing the availability of CAPS counselors, who recently submitted an open-letter to the Department of Student Life expressing concerns related to staff turnover.
“What may happen over time is that some students access Uwill for more brief virtual counseling … and (that) might free up CAPS to do more of the longer-term care that we’ve been hearing about, that students really want,” Mortenson said. “When we met with (University) President (Santa) Ono and (Central Student Government) last month, that was one of the big wishes that we heard from students.”
In an email sent to The Daily on Monday afternoon, the U-M Public Affairs department wrote the University conducted a pilot program with Uwill over the past year, which showed promising results.
“The results of this pilot have been very positive: more than 450 students have scheduled more than 750 counseling sessions, and reviews of the service have been very favorable,” the statement said. “Based on the success of this pilot we are ready to offer this service to all U-M students.”
According to Mortenson, the Uwill is a part of the University’s mission to prioritize mental health on campus in hopes of being able to increase access to long-term care and further support student well-being.
“Students have been very vocal and thoughtful about wanting more ways to access care and (having) easier ways to access care,” Mortenson said. “We’ve known for a while that some of our students … really need support that’s not just crisis support. Crisis support is great, but having some ability to continue care (is) really important.”
Daily News Reporter Nadia Taeckens can be reached at email@example.com.