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Hudson Health Center on Church Street in Athens, Ohio, Feb,. 6, 2024

OU offers new mental health service geared toward online and regional students

In partnership with TimelyCare, a platform for online mental health services, Ohio University plans to roll out a new set of counseling services in about six to eight weeks geared primarily to serve online and regional students. 

The new services are intended to help ensure counseling and psychological services are readily available to all OU students.

Although the Counseling and Psychological Services, or CPS, office on the Athens campus is available to support any student, they do not currently provide individual counseling services for e-campus or regional campus students, Mark Ferguson, executive director of well-being and recreation, said. 

Ferguson said, there are self-guided resources available on the CPS website for online and regional students. Some of what the website offers are crisis hotline numbers, opportunities to join survivor advocacy programs, workshops for depression and anxiety and mindfulness tools. 

Additionally, the Survivor Advocacy Program provides support and referrals to any OU student, Kathy Fahl, dean of students, said. For students inside Ohio, licensed professionals can still provide telehealth services – virtual healthcare visits –  to these students. Also, they can suggest local referrals to students outside of the area, Fahl said. 

The Office of the Dean of Students also provides emergency micro-grants to any eligible OU students, which assists in meeting students' needs. Fahl said although the grants aren’t necessarily a counseling service, they go hand-in-hand with improving students’ well-being. 

She said everyone’s needs are different, regardless of what campus they attend. Fahl highlighted the need to provide a range of available resources, as not all students have the same experiences throughout the university.

Fahl said students enrolled in Ohio Online may have a different schedule than students attending college in person. Online students may have a full-time job, are in a different state, have their own family or may be older than the 18-22 range. 

“We want to be able to offer a kind of a range of things to meet all of those unique needs to the best of the ability that we can and provide appropriate referrals to the resources that students need,” she said. 

Based on the varying needs, TimelyCare will provide 24/7 access to crisis support to students, Ferguson said. He said, there are six individual counseling sessions available to students. Additionally, due to the online nature of TimelyCare, each counseling session is done via telehealth appointments. 

TimelyCare has counselors in every state and country ready to assist students at any location. Ferguson said the service also offers peer communities and self-paced resources similar to CPS.

“Regardless of where our students are, they'll have support through this service,” he said.

The funding for the new services is currently from state funds, which are designated to provide mental health services, Ferguson said.

Director of Counseling and Psychological Services Paul Castelino and Senior Director of Affinity Programs and Student Engagement Kathy Wilson said TimelyCare is costless and does not require students to provide traditional insurance.

As the new programming becomes available, CPS will work closely with TimelyCare to discover when in-person versus telehealth services are needed and to best provide care for students, Ferguson said.

Kathy Fahl misspoke and said, that regarding the Survivor Advocacy Program, students “outside” of Ohio can receive telehealth care from licensed professionals, however, they cannot provide telehealth services to students outside of the area. They can provide telehealth services to students "inside" the state of Ohio. The report was changed on Fahl’s request to say “inside."


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