Carthage innovates to expand access to mental health support
Through seed money provided by foundations and donors, Carthage will pilot a teletherapy program to expand access to counseling services.
Carthage launched an initiative to give students easier access to mental health services. Uwill is a new program providing teletherapy for students, enabling all Carthage students on-demand counseling with licensed professionals through chat, video, phone, or text message.
Seed money for the virtual therapy program came from the Ruud Family Foundation of Racine, Wis., which inspired additional commitments from the Mary Frost Ashley Charitable Trust and several college trustees. Carthage parents William and Shanna Otto committed additional support and are issuing a challenge to raise another $10,000 through the College’s Giving Day campaign.
“The COVID-19 crisis has highlighted just how important it is to enable students to access therapy and mental health support as easily as possible,” said Carthage President John Swallow. “By using a platform and approach that are familiar to today’s students, Uwill is removing barriers to the counseling process and helping us give all Carthage students the support they need when they need it.”
Carthage adopted the teletherapy program in response to students’ growing demand for mental health support, which mirrors the challenges across the country. Prior to the pandemic, more than 60 percent of college students said they had experienced “overwhelming anxiety” in the past year, according to a 2018 report from the American College Health Association. According to an April survey by Active Minds, a national mental health advocacy group, 80 percent of college students say the pandemic has negatively affected their mental health.
Even before the pandemic, mental health issues were a growing concern on college campuses. “Across the country, mental health has emerged as one of the most significant issues of our time,” said Chris Ruud, president of the Ruud Family Foundation. “We are proud to support Carthage College as they seek an innovative solution to this challenge and meet the needs of a new generation of students.”
Designed to empower students by enabling them to evaluate and select mental health professionals of their choosing, Uwill is the only secure teletherapy platform to offer a full suite of communication modalities, including chat, video, phone, and messaging. The company is backed by Run-DMC founder and mental health advocate Darryl McDaniels, as well as education pioneers including Bright Horizons CEO Stephen Kramer and Princeton Review founder John Katzman.
“Help for those with mental health issues can be so very hard to access. This service fits perfectly with Carthage students’ needs and ways of communicating,” said parent Shanna Otto. “We are confident that this is a solution that will benefit many Carthage students so they can continue with their education and we invite others to help support this program.”