Student physical and mental health is a top concern for student affairs professionals and campus presidents. In fact, a survey conducted prior to the COVID-19 pandemic found that 94% of student affairs professionals believe that mental health is the most important issue on campus, and student well-being was a close second. According to the study, mental health visits have increased by 76% in public universities and 81% in private, non-profit universities, which indicates a growing need for mental health resources on campuses nationwide.
Following the outbreak of COVID-19, a survey of 172 university presidents similarly found that student mental health topped the list of short-term concerns for 92% of those who responded. In stark contrast, only 18% said they had implemented additional physical or mental health resources, and only 44% indicated plans for added resources in the future. According to Inside Higher Ed, Former President at the University of Idaho Chuck Staben was surprised to see college and university presidents choose not to invest in solving a problem that so many identified as a key issue, despite the possibility of future financial issues in higher education.
Impact of Distance Learning on Students
Students are also concerned about the impact of distance learning on their education, physical health and mental health. In a poll conducted by Rise — a non-profit advocate group — 4 out of 5 community college and university students indicated that their lives have been impacted beyond their education since the spread of COVID-19. And 75% of students polled said they are experiencing higher levels of stress, anxiety and depression as a result of newly implemented social distancing requirements.
With campuses shut down and on-campus resources unavailable, students are concerned about the ability to access mental health services as well as their ability to afford the mental health services they may need during COVID-19. Additional concerns include food insecurity (28%), access to stable wireless internet (20%) and secure housing (17%).
Telehealth Bridges the Gap Between Students and Care
COVID-19 presents a unique situation for higher education professionals who can see the need for student mental health services when on-campus services may not be available for students. At the same time, students who are now at home or away from campus indicate that mental health concerns are growing significantly in response to the pandemic. Virtual care delivered through telehealth removes the geographic barrier to care, but can present complex issues related to state licensures for medical and mental health providers for campuses not already utilizing a telehealth solution.
In these uncertain times, telehealth can bridge the gap between physical and mental health support and a dispersed student population. Higher education institutions face a difficult challenge when addressing the threat of COVID-19, providing appropriate and compliant healthcare resources and still educating students. In response, TimelyMD has introduced Campus.Health — an immediate telehealth solution that enables students to access medical and mental health services anytime, anywhere. Contact us today to learn how telehealth can support the healthcare needs of your campus.