UVA seeing high demand for mental health services, offers telehealth help

Published: Feb. 10, 2022 at 9:26 PM EST
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - A spotlight is being shone on mental health care for college students and the University of Virginia is facing a tall task.

Many students are seeking help and, as a result, numerous resources need to be tapped into.

With students back on UVA Grounds, and in-person classes back to the norm, the demand for other in-person services has also increased.

“I think that a lot of students were craving that human interaction that we all missed out on when we were in lockdown,” Director of Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) Nicole Ruzek said.

Ruzek says demand is usually high, but it’s been even greater since, and perhaps because of, the coronavirus pandemic.

“This combination of a more stressful world and less stigma around mental health issues, I think equals this demand that we’re seeing,” Ruzek said.

Two UVA fourth-year students we spoke with, including Sonja Bergquist, said that the high demand is not a surprise to them.

“Being a college student at this time when you’re trying to be social and meet new people and stuff, I think it’s really a tough time for a pandemic to hit,” she said. “But, there’s never a good time, obviously.”

Because of this, Ruzek says they’ve had to expand options for students. Now CAPS can offer any student who pays the comprehensive health fee 12 free telehealth sessions through TimelyMD.

“Partnering with them has allowed us a really easy pathway to get students care really at no cost to them,” she said.

While that resource may be helpful for some, others need more guidance. Ruzek says the students who would most benefit from in-person counseling include those struggling with something more physical, or those with a chronic condition.

“If a student is having more of an urgent concern, or there’s some risk there, we will put them into an urgent intake,” Ruzek said. “Typically the wait for that is no more than a week.”

CAPS says that students who want in-person help but don’t meet the urgent care criteria could see longer wait times.

It’s also been hard to connect students with non-university resources because waits there are also long.

To learn more about the resources at CAPS, click here.

The current number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255.

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