Starting in March, IU will offer an online platform giving on-demand access to mental health resources for students, per a January release.
The endeavor is a partnership with TimelyMD and will feature medical care suitable for a diverse range of cultural backgrounds, according to the release. TimelyCare has more than half of mental health providers who are people of color. They also have providers who are LGBTQ+, speak multiple languages and have different religious and spiritual beliefs, giving students the ability to choose a provider that best fits them.
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IU Chief Health Officer Aaron Carroll said one of the main recommendations from the services and support taskforce was the need to increase diverse and accessible mental health care to all students, including those who are online only.
“Unfortunately, there’s a shortage of mental health professionals, not just in Indiana but across the country,” Carroll said.
The university will mainly be using the TimelyCare platform, a free, 24/7 virtual care service that will diagnose and treat students remotely.
“I think that offering this service online will help get more people the mental health assistance they need, especially with it being free seeing as therapy is very expensive even if you have insurance,” IU freshman Jason Burlison, a psychology major, said.
Carroll says the platform will allow students to make one-on-one appointments and receive confirmation within minutes whereas at the Counseling and Psychological Services, due to a clinician shortage, sees students within a two-day window.
“It’s our hope that not only will this provide increased services to all of our students, but it will also help take the pressure off CAPS, so that they can do what they do best and provide one-on-one, in-person counseling for those who truly desire that,” Carroll said.
Lorenzo Lorenzo-Luaces, assistant professor at the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, said that while there are several benefits such as receiving diagnosis, treatment and medication management, there could also be potential drawbacks to telehealth.
“A person may try to get help through teletherapy and find that it doesn’t work for them and think that treatment is not going to help them in general,” Lorenzo-Luaces said. “When it could really be the modality of teletherapy was not working for them at that time.”
The experience of not making improvement in therapy and needing additional treatment is common, Lorenzo-Luaces said. He recommends students try to stay optimistic about online mental health resources.
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“Just because one thing didn’t work doesn’t mean nothing will, so keep a little bit of that optimism and keep trying,” Lorenzo-Luaces said.