Middlebury College in Vermont provides students with comprehensive counseling and mental health services when they need them during the week, but its staff can’t always be there after business hours for support.
So it decided to partner with telehealth company TimelyMD and its network of board-certified physicians and licensed counselors to provide assistance during nights and weekends.
Students responded by reaching out more than 500 times during remote learning last fall. That coincides with attendees at some 80 institutions – including Duke, Emory, Georgetown, Johns Hopkins and Notre Dame – who frequently have turned to teletherapy either during moments of crisis or to improve their overall health.
TimelyMD’s value has soared, and on Tuesday it released confirmation of that as it received a $60 million boost from growth equity firm JMI Equity. The company said the investment will go back into student care as it looks to improve their outcomes, including improving health literacy at its partner schools.
“Our mission is to improve the well-being of college students by making virtual medical and mental health care accessible anytime, anywhere,” said CEO and co-founder Luke Hejl. “This investment enables TimelyMD to achieve our vision to empower students to be well and thrive, eliminate barriers to care for an exponentially greater number of students, and better serve a growing and diverse range of institutions.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a mental health crisis for students across the country. TimelyMD reported to University Business back in August that 85% of college attendees were facing some form of stress but that less than a quarter of them reached out for help. The company notes that about two-thirds of college dropouts do so because of mental health reasons. Those statistics have put institutions on alert as they look to keep them healthy and within their communities.
Understanding both the plight of students, the impact that mental health might have on others and the health of the college, Middlebury decided to get help.
“We sought out telehealth resources from TimelyMD to support students working remotely (outside of Vermont), and for students on campus who preferred more flexibility in scheduling their health and counseling needs,” said Gus Jordan, Executive Director of the Center for Health and Wellness at Middlebury College. “Student response was overwhelmingly positive. When mental health concerns were particularly serious, TimelyMD reached out to our on-call staff to ensure student safety.”
Jordan says that from an institution’s perspective, the benefits of having that additional care 24/7 are worth the investment.
“TimelyMD allows us to offer true wraparound care, both on campus and across the country,” he says. “And because care can be accessed at no additional cost to students, with no concerns about deductibles or copays, we find students are much less hesitant to reach out for the care they need.”
From medical appointments to health coaching, Middlebury students have found the service invaluable because they can access it so easily. Senior Kate Holly has utilized telehealth for nutrition, improving sleep habits, goal setting and on-demand medical care.
“I was inspired to start health coaching because this summer I switched my diet and I wanted to make sure I was supplying my body with exactly what it needs,” she says. “What I didn’t realize about my health coach was that she has experience in all the realms of wellness. While we started focusing on food, we also discussed how I am taking care of myself in other aspects. We talk about what’s working and what’s not, she helps me identify how confident I am about achieving those goals, and we work through barriers to those goals.”
For colleges and universities interested in telehealth through TimelyMD, the company typically will do a campus assessment and design a program that meets the needs of the institution. TimelyMD will help market and launch the initiative and then support it once it has been implemented.