Many college students seek mental-health help after hours, app maker shows

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A telehealth app called TimelyCare on Tuesday reported that 40% of its virtual mental-health check-ins with students over the past three months took place outside of typical business hours.

Visit numbers for the platform, which is used by more than 130 colleges and universities, quadrupled between August and October, according to a press release. TimelyCare, which offers students access to its own health counselors around clock, conducted more than 1,100 virtual visits in August, 2,900 visits in September and more than 4,200 visits in October, which often falls around midterm assessments.

Most students reported seeking help for anxiety, depression or general stress, with 92% looking for scheduled therapy sessions or on-demand counseling, rather than psychiatric help or health coaching, according to the data.

Many colleges and universities developed their own services or signed on with companies to offer virtual mental-health support when the coronavirus pandemic closed campuses in 2020. The average number of video mental health sessions at college mental health centers increased more than 6,000% from March to June in 2020, compared to the eight months before, according to a survey of higher education mental health centers.

This trend is expected to continue. Speakers at a recent higher-education conference defined using technology to address student mental health as a priority for 2022, though it did not make an annual top 10 list of IT priorities. Ohio State researchers conducting an annual survey found that more students returning in 2021 screened positive for anxiety, depression and burnout compared to fall 2020.

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