CUNY Offers New Text-Based Mental Health Services

Written By: Olivia McCaa

 In a newsletter released Feb. 22, CUNY announced their intention to implement a new form of text-based counseling for students. This new initiative is provided in partnership with the Crisis Text Line, a 24/7 organization dedicated to online mental health and counseling.

   “The Crisis Text Line is just the first of many ways we are strengthening the mental health services we provide to CUNY students at a time when many are facing psychological burdens that can impede their academic success,” said Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez in the newsletter.

  The new texting service is aimed to help CUNY students who may be struggling with personal, school, and work-related issues in a free, accessible, and convenient way. The texting form provides an alternative to in-person, over-the-phone, or video conference counseling. 

   “The crisis counselors are trained to help callers ‘move from a hot moment to a cool calm to stay safe and healthy, using effective active listening and suggested referrals’ – all through text message,” the release reads. 

  The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating and long-term impact on students across the nation, with recent reports of increased depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention released a report stating that nearly one-quarter of their surveyed participants between the ages of 18-24 reported considering suicide. This spike in mental health-related issues has become a growing concern amongst schools and parents. 

   Even before the pandemic, access to mental health care on school campuses was limited and proved inadequate for students’ needs.

   “I hope that schools like Brooklyn College begin to see that mental health is more than just the idea of something needing to be wrong,” a student said anonymously. “Access to mental health resources at school have always felt outdated and insincere and it’s hard to ask for help when you have limited resources and places to turn to.”

   CUNY plans to train faculty through a program called Kognito that provides real-time simulations that cover a variety of topics and issues that students may face, including family hardships, substance abuse, and other stressors. The expansion of teletherapy and online resources through CUNY’s roll-out plan allows students to have safe and confidential care.

   “I think it’s a good idea to have services that students can reach through their phone and I really hope that CUNY is able to continue to follow through with this project,” the student said. “A lot of my friends that I’ve talked to are really struggling with being at home and it feels like CUNY doesn’t care, so I’m glad they are trying to find solutions to help their students.”

   Students can reach a counselor by texting “CUNY” to 741741 to start a conversation. 

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