Even before it officially started on August 12, students were enrolling Timely carea virtual health service that is the latest addition to Virginia Tech’s mental health and wellness resources.
TimelyCare is offered to students at no cost. TimelyCare is a supplement—not a replacement—for many mental health support structures in place at Virginia Tech.
“We know that mental health is a critical component of overall wellness,” said Frances Keene, interim vice president for Student Affairs. “TimelyCare services complement our existing mental health services and educational programming by giving students a powerful and flexible way to use technology to seek support 24/7. Each student’s mental health support needs are unique, and by offering a variety of resources, we hope to encourage students to seek the support that best suits their needs.
“We hope that this resource will be well received by students. It provides an opportunity for almost instant contact with a clinician if they have issues they’d like to discuss, regardless of the time of day or night or the student’s location or the device they’re using,” said Ellie Sturgis, director of Thomas E. Cook Counseling Center.
TimelyCare at Virginia Tech offers three services to students.
- TalkNow connects a student with a counselor to address problems before they snowball. It offers students immediate care when they experience stress or anxiety and need someone to talk to in the moment.
- Scheduled counseling allows students to make appointments with counselors licensed in the student’s state. There is a limit of 12 scheduled counseling appointments per academic year.
- Health Coaching provides information and guided sessions on wellness topics such as dealing with conflict, time management, exercise, sleep, nutrition and mindfulness.
For scheduled counseling and health coaching, students can view counselors’ biographical information and photos and choose the one they think best fits their needs.
“It’s important to us to offer students choices in the type of advisor they would prefer, whether it’s a particular identity, affiliation or specialty,” said Chris Wise, assistant vice president for Student Affairs. “TimelyCare gives students opportunities to choose counselors with whom they identify or who share similar life experiences.”
TimelyCare supports more than 250 languages and offers translation services. The service is also accessible through the Americans with Disabilities application. Students can connect to TimelyCare through a phone, computer or tablet and they can choose phone or video sessions. Another benefit is that students can use TimelyCare when they are home for vacation or away from campus for internships, regardless of their location in the United States. TalkNow is available internationally with a US-based phone number or virtual private network.
And TimelyCare is fast.
“When a student is distressed, it is important that they are able to access services as soon as possible because mental health conditions can significantly impair academic performance,” Sturgis said. “When a student has to wait days or weeks for services to begin, anxiety often increases and problems can intensify. If an individual is able to talk quickly about a situation, they can often de-escalate it.”
Nationwide, the need for mental health counseling services on college campuses continues to grow, with demand for services at Virginia Tech increasing by 8 to 10 percent in a typical year.
“The quality of our advisors at Virginia Tech is exceptionally good; however, the demand for appointments continues to challenge us and it is difficult to hire enough advisors to keep up with this demand,” said Wise. “With a 24/7, 365-day virtual health service in addition to our in-person offerings, we believe this will help us ease the backlog of appointments.
“We suggest all students download the TimelyCare app and register now so that in a time of need, they don’t have to go through the registration process.”
Wise also encourages parents and families to know about mental health resources that are available to students so they can be supportive as needed. “Often students call family or friends when they need advice. The more parents and families know about the resources we provide to students, the more effective those resources will be,” said Wise. “We offer a variety of options to support student well-being. This is not a “one size fits all student” approach.
TimelyCare is available at no cost to Virginia Tech students. Students are encouraged to register with TimelyCare before they need services. Students can enroll in the TimelyCare app or through TimelyCare website. Additionally, the TimelyCare QR code will be given away with giveaways when TimelyCare visits the Blacksburg campus on August 24th. Additional promotional items will be distributed at GobblerFest on September 2nd. For questions about IT service or support, call 833-4-Timely.