CONNECT FAQ

A Critical Need

We hear it from administrators and we see it in the data. Research published in 2018 by the American Psychological Association found that more than one-third of first-year university students in eight industrialized countries report symptoms consistent with a diagnosable mental health disorder. According to the latest National College Health Assessment, conducted by the American College Health Association, 17.3 percent of students had been treated for depression in the past year, and 22 percent of students had been treated for anxiety. Sixty-two percent of students reported having felt overwhelming anxiety and 41.4 percent reported depression so severe that they found it difficult to function at some point in the prior 12 months.

College counseling centers are being overwhelmed by increasing demand. According to the 2017 Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors Annual Survey, during the 2016-2017 school year, nearly half of counseling centers were not able to offer triage appointments and only two thirds had an available psychiatrist. According to the same survey, 34 percent of centers reported having a waiting list at some point during the school year. For centers with a waitlist, the average wait for a first appointment was 17.3 business days.

College administrators are well-aware of the sometimes-dire risk of letting students fall through the cracks while at school. Administrators are also increasingly concerned about student success and retention, and a 2009 study published in the Journal of College Student Development demonstrated that students who receive counseling services on campus are more likely to remain enrolled in school.

Hiring more counselors is not the most efficient or effective way to fill the campus care gap, and it doesn't take into account the importance of reaching out to students in distress who may be reluctant to seek help. First, with CONNECT@College, colleges and universities can add capacity without taking on the added expense of additional staff and infrastructure that will only be needed during peak periods. Second, CONNECT@College increases counseling hours by assuming administrative functions, freeing counselors to spend more time providing therapy.  According to the most recent Association of University and College Counseling Center Directors Annual Survey, counseling center staff spend 35 percent of their time on non-clinical tasks. Third, CONNECT@College allows colleges and universities to offer additional behavioral health options -- including access to off-campus providers, online support and telehealth -- that students are seeking. A 2010 study published in the Advances in Mental Health Journal showed that more distressed students are more receptive to using an online program than less distressed students, with students at low, moderate and severe levels of distress saying they would use online services at rates of 39.1 percent, 49.4 percent and 57.7 percent, respectively. A 2018 study in the United Kingdom sponsored by Unihealth found that students are more likely to seek behavioral advice by phone than in-person counseling sessions. In short, CONNECT@College allows higher education institutions to offer the right students the right care at the right time.

 

Our Solution

CONNECT@College enhances available care through a combination of web-based tools, care coordinators, and additional treatment options such as Internet-based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, telehealth, and access to a network of off-campus providers. CONNECT can help alleviate the overwhelming demand placed on student counseling centers by steering students to alternative options, both for low and high acuity cases.  This infrastructure allows the counseling centers to provide the short-term counseling services for which they were designed.

The Wellness Hub is a digital platform offering evidence-based education, online therapy tools, and access to 24/7 clinical support line for students. Navigators are personal off-site guides who help students access and resolve barriers to treatment, including finding and completing off-campus therapy appointments. Navigators provide a consistent point of contact for students requiring care management and are recommended for those who come to campus with a diagnosed disorder. CONNECT Treatment Options expand capacity by providing additional treatment choices for students including access to a network of off-campus providers, and internet-based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (ICBT). This offers overflow options for students who need short-term counseling when the counseling center is full, additional preferences for students who do not want or are not ready for one-on-one counseling, and expanded options for students requiring longer-term treatment who are better served by off-campus clinicians.

CONNECT@College is designed for college students all along the behavioral health continuum, including those who do not meet the criteria for a mental health disorder. The Wellness Hub includes education on proactive wellness topics such as sleep, stress, relationship issues, and self-care.

Through health awareness and education, CONNECT@College will also help colleges and universities reach the significant number of students who may need support but will not seek it. While demand and utilization are up, most students who would benefit from behavioral health services are not receiving them.  Only 51 percent of students with a behavioral health condition received treatment during the 2016-2017 school year, according to the University of Michigan-based Healthy Minds Network.

Christie Campus Health is compensated through a per-student fee to the college or university.  How to apportion that fee is a decision made by the institution and it may vary from school to school.

All student interactions will follow HIPPA and FERPA protocols, as well as any guidelines provided by the college.

Benefits for Colleges

CONNECT@College helps colleges and universities provide or enhance an ecosystem of behavioral health support and services, including online tools and Internet-based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, navigators to help students get access to appropriate support and treatment, and access to a network of off-campus providers. Most colleges and universities cannot provide after-hours support like the 24/7 CONNECT Support Line. CONNECT@College also helps colleges and universities with health awareness and education to make sure students who need behavioral health services are getting them. The comprehensive, integrated and proactive approach of CONNECT@College is different from the short-term counseling model that most campuses have today.

 

CONNECT@College will help colleges and universities bend the cost curve by reducing their need to hire more counselors or build more associated infrastructure to meet the rising demand for behavioral health services. First, CONNECT@College increases available counseling hours by assuming administrative functions, freeing counselors to spend more time providing therapy. According to the most recent Association of University and College Counseling Center Directors Annual Survey, counseling center staff spend 35 percent of their time on non-clinical tasks. Second, CONNECT@College further increases available counseling hours by offering additional treatment options, including access to off-campus providers. Third, CONNECT@College allows colleges and universities to offer additional behavioral health options, such as online support and telehealth, that students are seeking. A 2018 study in the United Kingdom sponsored by Unihealth found that students are more likely to seek behavioral advice by phone than in-person counseling sessions. A 2010 study published in the Advances in Mental Health Journal showed that more distressed students are more receptive to using an online program than less distressed students, with students at low, moderate and severe levels of distress saying they would use online services at rates of 39.1 percent, 49.4 percent and 57.7 percent, respectively. Finally, CONNECT@College allows institutions to consolidate multiple vendor contracts and related overhead into one partner relationship.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness College Students Speak 2012 survey found that 40 percent of students with mental health diagnoses did not seek help, with stigma (reported by 36 percent) being the largest barrier to treatment. CONNECT@College allows students to access a large amount of informational and educational material, online Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and telehealth services without having to fear being seen by peers. A 2010 study published in the Advances in Mental Health Journal showed that more distressed students are more receptive to using an online program than less distressed students, with students at low, moderate and severe levels of distress saying they would use online services at rates of 39.1 percent, 49.4 percent and 57.7 percent, respectively.

Students of color face unique pressures on campus and are less likely than white students to seek help for mental or emotional health issues. A 2017 study by the Jed Foundation and the Steve Fund found that students of color are more likely than their white peers to report feeling isolated on campus (46 percent as compared to 30 percent) and to report feeling overwhelmed most or all of the time (51 percent as compared to 40 percent). The study also found that white students were much more likely to seek help than black students, and nearly twice as likely to report receiving a diagnosis of anxiety, depression, or attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. Three-quarters of black students said they tended to keep their feelings about the difficulties in college to themselves.

Several studies have shown that young people who identify as LGBTQ have higher rates of mental health problems. In a 2017 Rand Corporation study, students who identified as LGBTQ reported higher rates of psychological distress and mental health-related academic impairment than their straight peers. LGBTQ-identifying students are almost two times as likely to use mental health services, and much more likely to report using off-campus services and to report barriers to seeking help at the on-campus counseling center.