Due to the pandemic, West Virginia University’s mental health clinic made the switch to virtual counseling on March 25.
According to students surveyed and the staff, the transition has been an overall positive experience for many involved.
“We’re really excited to be able to provide telehealth to the students,” said T. Anne Hawkins, director of the Carruth Center. “We’re also hoping for a time soon when they can return in person and we can see them. We are available in person if there is a psychiatric emergency, if we had a situation with a student that required an in person visit, we would accommodate that for sure.”
The Carruth Center made sure the students attending the center were notified of the changes early, Hawkins said. The moment they knew the school would be going virtual in the morning, they began reaching out.
Emails were sent, counselors spoke directly to their students during sessions about the upcoming changes and staff called students to ensure they were aware of the switch to online.
Sara Locke, a junior public health student, has used the center’s services since last year. She said she believes the change of platform was actually beneficial for her.
By attending counseling sessions online, it has helped lower her stress levels during the pandemic.
“They gave me enough time to figure out how to set it up and stuff,” Locke said. “I’m more comfortable with it being online, so like, things are a little bit better.”
The Carruth Center conducted a survey this summer after the switch to online counseling via email to those who recently attended virtual sessions.
Hawkins said that the student response to the changes was positive, and they are currently working on a program to better serve those in quarantine and get the mental health services they need in a stressful situation such as that.
They are also planning to conduct another survey soon.
Hawkins also said the Carruth Center is currently working with the local health department, and when they deem it is safe to return to in-person counseling, they will do so.