As access to higher education increases, and enrollments grow, institutions are seeing a surge in the number of students on campus with the need for specific services and resources. One of the most common, and quickly growing groups of students, are those with mental health issues, ranging from mild anxiety and depression, to difficulties managing prescription medications, to more severe conditions. Unfortunately, budgets and staffing have often not kept pace with this growth, leaving schools grappling with how to serve more students with the same resources, and often leaving students with extremely long wait times to get an appointment with a counselor.
Determining how best to scale services to meet this growing need is not easy, as counseling is not thought of as a service that is ripe for innovation or creativity. We must rely on trusted and licensed professionals to deliver this service, and there is a lot at stake if we get it wrong.
Case Study: The University of Florida
The Counseling and Wellness Center at the University of Florida partnered with the College of Education to develop Therapist Assisted Online (TAO)—a seven week program that helps students battling mild anxiety. TAO is an innovative program that seeks to deliver therapy to students in a low-cost, low-time, but high-impact format.
The TAO Experience
Each week, students view online video modules, complete a series of exercises, and participate in a brief video conference meeting with their assigned counselor. Students are responsible for maintaining a daily monitoring log in which they record their feelings, level of anxiety, and actions in response to anxiety. For each of the seven weeks, students are required to complete several components for the weekly module.