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How the pandemic has changed mental health services for college students

Published: Feb. 10, 2021 at 9:56 PM CST
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - For many, the pandemic has taken its toll on our mental health.

Chris Mosunic, Chief Clinical Officer, Vida Health, said in a CNN interview, “It’s pretty clear that it’s, I would say, close to 100% attributable to COVID. We’ve never seen anything like this in the history of statistics with depression rates rising, anxiety rates rising, suicide rates rising.”

As expected, physical health has been at the forefront of our focus over the last year. But, many weren’t anticipating mental health to share as much of the spotlight as it has.

College students have especially struggled.

Kim Grieve, University of South Dakota’s Vice President of Student Services and Dean of Students, says it’s due, in part, to lack of engagement.

Kim Grieve, “We have seen about a 30% increase in counseling appointments over the last couple of years. From last Fall to this Fall, we had over a thousand more appointments.”

Because of the pandemic’s impact, the University has expanded services for their students to meet the demand.

She added, “Now we have more full-time as well as part-time counselors, we have telehealth where students can do it their home or their residence hall, we have walk-in appointments, we have group counseling.”

USD has also created Therapy Assistance Online, also known as “TAO”

Grieve said, “We’ve started an online, educational program as well, where students can access over 150 educational modules.”

Though the pandemic won’t last forever, it has made a permanent mark on mental health services.

“Many of our services are brand new this year. We really saw a need and wanted to make sure we were able to see as many students as possible. For instance, the group counseling has been really helpful because we’ve been able to see several students at once,” said Grieve.

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