University of Denver Takes the Lead in Expanding Mental Health Support for Students
Where can students turn when they are having a panic attack at 2 a.m.? Or when they are feeling overwhelmed by their work load during a late-night study session and the on-campus counseling center is closed?
In the face of what experts consider a mental health crisis in higher education, the University of Denver is tackling the growing demand for counseling by providing telemental health services to all students—at no additional cost to the student. This effort makes DU one of the first universities in the country to implement a round-the-clock telemental health service to students no matter where they are.
Telemental health allows students to access licensed counselors by text, video chat or phone any time of day or night from anywhere in the world. DU partnered with the renowned international telemental health company, Toronto-based Morneau Shepell, to expand the services to all students—whether they are domestic or international, studying abroad or participating in online programs.
“We thought, how does DU be on the cutting edge of what we need to do to support our students and their success,” says Michael LaFarr, executive director of DU’s Health & Counseling Center. “How can we help people who are maybe not ready to engage in face-to-face therapy? We started looking into other ways, and the telemental health option made a lot of sense to us. It’s a great way to help people that may not get help otherwise.”
Students can download the free My SSP (student support program) app to get started. They will have access to unlimited, confidential mental health and well-being support every day of the year. The program offers counseling in more than 60 different languages, and it’s not just a crisis support line—students can call or text to address day-to-day challenges before they become bigger issues.
“We understand it’s not a one-size-fits-all,” LaFarr says. “If we as a university continue to think in creative ways, I think the students really win. We want diversity of the support we offer our community.”
This newly expanded telemental health program complements the robust services already provided by DU’s Health and Counseling Center. These remain available to students even if they use the My SSP app.
Perhaps most important, the app allows DU to reach students who may not seek support through traditional counseling methods. Since the My SSP September 2019 launch, most users have reported that it represented their first experience with student mental health resources.
“We are really proud to be on the cutting edge of what’s happening to help our students succeed, graduate and thrive while they are studying.” La Farr says. “The University of Denver is thinking creatively and outside the box. I’m really proud of the University supporting our students in this way.”
Click here for step-by-step instructions to download the app and set up an account.