Even before the official Aug. 12 launch, students signed up for TimelyCare, a virtual health service that is the latest addition to Virginia Tech’s mental health and wellness resources.
TimelyCare is offered to students free of charge. TimelyCare is a supplement—not a replacement—for the many mental health support structures that exist at Virginia Tech.
“We know that mental health is a critical component of overall well-being,” said Frances Keane, interim vice president for student affairs. “TimelyCare’s services complement our existing mental health services and education programs by providing students with a robust and flexible way to use technology to seek support 24/7. Each student’s mental health support needs are unique, and by providing a variety of resources, we hope to encourage students to seek the support that best suits their needs.”
“We hope this resource will be well received by students. It provides an option for almost immediate contact with a clinician if there are issues they would like to discuss, regardless of the time of day or night or the student’s location or the device they are using,” said Ellie Sturgis, director of the Thomas E. Cook Counseling Center .
TimelyCare at Virginia Tech offers three services for students.
- TalkNow connects a student with a counselor to address issues before they snowball. Provides students with immediate care when they are experiencing stress or anxiety and need someone to talk to right now.
- Scheduled Counseling allows students to schedule 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 conflict management, time management, exercise, sleep, nutrition and mindfulness.
For scheduled counseling and health coaching, students can view counselors’ biographical information and photos and select the one they feel best suits their needs.
“It’s important to us to give students a choice in the type of advisor they would prefer, whether it’s a particular identity, affiliation or major,” said Chris Wise, assistant vice president for student affairs. “TimelyCare gives students options to choose counselors they identify with or who share similar life experiences.”
TimelyCare supports more than 250 languages and offers translation services. The Service is also compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, accessible through the App. Students can connect to TimelyCare via phone, computer or tablet and can choose between phone or video sessions. Another benefit is that students can access 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 in trouble, it’s important for them to access services as quickly as possible because mental illness can significantly impair academic performance,” Sturgis said. “When a student has to wait several days or weeks to begin services, the distress is often compounded and problems can become worse. If a person can discuss the situation quickly, they can often de-escalate it.
Nationally, the need for mental health counseling services on college campuses continues to grow, with demand for services at Virginia Tech growing 8 to 10 percent in a typical year.
“The quality of our advisors at Virginia Tech is exceptionally good; however, appointment demand continues to challenge us and it is difficult to recruit enough counselors to meet this demand,” Wise said. “With a 24/7, 365-day virtual health service in addition to our in-person offerings, we believe this will help us reduce accrued hours.
“We suggest all students download the TimelyCare app and sign up now so that in a time of need, they don’t have to go through the sign-up process.”
Wise also encourages parents and families to know about the mental health resources available to students so they can support them if needed. “Often, students call their family or friends when they need advice. The more parents and families know about the resources we offer students, the more effective those resources will be,” Wise said. “We offer a variety of options to support student well-being. This is not a “one size fits all student” approach.
TimelyCare is offered free of charge to Virginia Tech students. Students are encouraged to register with TimelyCare before they need the services. Students can register on the TimelyCare app or through the TimelyCare website. Additionally, the TimelyCare QR code will be given away with giveaways when TimelyCare visits the Blacksburg campus on August 24th. Other promotional items will be given away at GobblerFest on September 2nd. For service or IT support questions, call 833-4-Timely.