How two wellness providers are broadening the menu of mental health care services for students

Chugani's urge to "broaden the menu" of wellness services revolutionizes the way campuses look at campus counseling: Instead of the one-all, be-all approach, therapy is one small piece of the puzzle.

Third-party teletherapy solutions have been some of the most attractive options for colleges struggling to meet student counseling demands amid reportedly declining rates of campus mental health. As effective as these services may be, Mantra Health and TimelyCare—formerly TimelyMD—have taken time to recalibrate their philosophy to attend to students at all levels of their mental health journey rather than just addressing them in the counseling room.

TimelyCare and Mantra Health’s commitment to self-guided services is their latest approach to student mental health. While each of these companies may approach the issue differently, they share one objective: addressing student mental health before it becomes an emergency.

“We know there are plenty of students that are already distressed, and we want to get them the care as quickly as possible, but there are also many students on campus who are stressed, and if we can catch those students before stress turns into distress then we have a real opportunity to serve differently and make lives better,” says Mantra Health Vice President Carla Chugani.

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Mantra Health utilizes a subset of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) called dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) as part of its practice with students. While CBT focuses more on how patients can change unhelpful thoughts, DBT recognizes that the first step to changing thought patterns is by accepting them. Techniques used to boost equanimity amid heightened stress include emotional regulation, mindfulness and distress tolerance.

Mantra Health’s DBT Self-Guided Skills program teaches students techniques they cultivate on their own, which makes it a powerful tool to help students alleviate their stress without dependence on a campus’ finite resources. Instead of clinical counselors, students in this program have success coaches who help them set goals and identify barriers to achieving mental wellness, empowering students to find their path.

Chugani’s urge to “broaden the menu” of wellness services revolutionizes the way campuses look at campus counseling: Instead of the one-all, be-all approach, therapy is one small piece of the puzzle.

“Part of that healthy transition to adulthood is thinking for yourself a little bit more. Instead of just telling kids what to do and making them dependent on us for the answers, we want to give them the tools that they need to regulate themselves and some of these intense moods they might be experiencing. How can they apply these tools we’re teaching them to further their individual goals?”

TimelyCare’s new feature Self-Care Journey provides students with snackable self-care tips on diet, relationships and mental health disorders through short videos and other mediums that emulate the current way they digest social media. Additionally, students can identify what might be afflicting them without intervention from a counselor with TimelyCare’s new AI-assisted Symptom Checker. The feature allows digitally native students to better assess their issues through the device they’re most comfortable with: their smartphone. It also takes the pressure and labor off counselors to address every student.

“About half of the students who have used TimelyCare’s peer community or self-care resources have not had a provider visit in the last three months,” said Nassim Bickham, vice president of care transformation at TimelyCare, according to a press release.

However, Mantra Health CEO Ed Gaussen wants to make it clear that while providing students with tools that empower them to succeed in their own mental health journey, it is always in unison with campus support.

“We believe that on-the-ground support is absolutely integral to the success of this new model,” says Gaussen. “We’re not two different models that exist in silos. We’re very much an integrated experience together to offer whatever is best for students.”

Alcino Donadel
Alcino Donadel
Alcino Donadel is a UB staff writer and Florida Gator alumnus. A graduate in journalism and communications, his beats have ranged from Gainesville's city development, music scene, and regional little league sports divisions. He has triple citizenship from the U.S., Ecuador, and Brazil.

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