Ohio University has recently partnered with Morneau Shepell, a leading provider of technology-enabled HR services that helps support an individual's wellbeing. With this partnership, OU students from out of state can now receive free mental health services.

Due to many OU students staying home because of COVID-19, OU’s Counseling and Psychological Services (CPS) quickly realized that many students were out of state. Being out of state, students don’t have the same benefits they would have if they were on campus. CPS noticed that they needed to take action to provide the services, regardless of what state the student is in.

“While CPS staff continued to provide services with temporary exceptions that states issued because of the pandemic, a long-term plan was necessary to care for students who were continuing education at OU while living out of state,” Paul Castelino, director of counseling and psychological services, said in an email. 

CPS did a lot of research and explored what other institutions of higher education were doing, and decided to go with My SSP (Student Support Program). 

“CPS made a concerted effort to identify a program and, in consultation with other institutions of higher education, My SSP was identified as an optimal option,” Castelino said in an email. “My SSP not only provides immediate crisis counseling and consults but can also provide ongoing counseling by connecting with a counselor in the state that a student resides.”

Students are able to seek the help they need without intimidation. My SSP creates a platform for meaningful responses and will be a link in providing students with the treatment they need.

“Students can access My SSP anywhere, anytime,” Stephanie Maccombs, a CPS counselor, said in an email. “They can download the free My SSP App via the Apple App Store or Google Play. Through the app, students can call or chat with a Student Support Counselor in real time, schedule a telephone or video session, browse the digital library for helpful articles and videos, and access virtual fitness features.” 

Students can also access services directly or download the app from https://us.myissp.com, as well as call My SSP direct at 866-743-7732. If calling from outside of North America, the number to call is 001-416-380-6578.

Through the app, students are able to text or meet with someone that will provide the ongoing support they need.

The app can speak a multitude of languages, including English, Spanish, French, Mandarin and many more. Alongside the versatility with language, students are able to meet with a clinician they identify with – meaning they can meet with a clinician of the same ethnicity or sexual identity. This opportunity allows students to meet with someone that they feel comfortable talking to.

“We ask students, if they're not in crisis, if they've ever utilized other campus services before with regards to needing mental health support, and we kind of list out a number of different folks –– we list out if you’ve ever confided in a coach, in a peer, in a faculty member, in an advisor or campus counseling health and wellness,” Colleen Hunter, director of student support programs and Morneau Shepell affiliate, said. “We're able to reach students that, for whatever reason, previously have not felt comfortable getting mental health support through campus.”

This partnership has sparked the beginning of a new way of supporting the well-being of mental health. The app is made to help students and CPS hopes that OU students will take advantage and benefit from this partnership.

“I've noticed, since I've been here, that all of my friends are all from Ohio,” Molly Stefl, an out-of-state freshman studying early childhood education, said. “It's harder to meet people that are from out of state. It's a little bit different, going and being in a completely different place from where you live. I think having access to resources that are willing to help people that aren't from here is nice, because it's a very different experience than what people that live like in the state and live close are experiencing.” 

@kkayyben

kb084519@ohio.edu