By Matt Kyle | Staff Writer
In response to an increase in demand at the Baylor Counseling Center (BUCC) this semester, the BUCC will soon launch a 24/7 telehealth service. The service will be called Baylor Telehealth by Academic Live Care and is free for all students.
The service will be a partnership between Baylor and Academic Live Care, a telehealth service. The service will provide thousands of counselors for students to receive support from. The service will act as both a crisis line and a way for students to get connected with a therapist. It also has long-term care options and offers appointments in the evenings and on weekends, outside of the BUCC’s hours.
Teran Yaklin, associate director of clinical operations, said the service will allow for quicker access to care.
“We understand that timing is a big thing for our students,” Yaklin said. “If a student is being told, ‘Hey, you can have an appointment within three to four weeks,’ that’s a long time for our students. A lot can happen for them in three to four weeks. We want to make sure that they have access to care in a timely fashion.”
Yaklin said the service will allow students to have an appointment scheduled within two to three business days. She said the service will do an initial assessment and connect students with resources to help them.
Yaklin said the BUCC is hoping to launch Baylor Teleheath within the next few weeks. She said the service will be similar to the BUCC’s current 24/7 hotline, but due to the outsourcing of therapists to telehealth companies, appointments can be scheduled at any time, even in the middle of the night.
Dr. Randal Boldt, senior associate director of the BUCC, said the increase in demand for mental health services caused by the pandemic goes beyond the BUCC.
“We’re seeing an increase in things like mental and emotional exhaustion, hopelessness, a large increase in anxiety, as well as depression, loneliness and grief,” Boldt said. “This matches national data for counseling centers, colleges, and it’s similar to us.”
Boldt said the service is expected to absorb increased demand at the BUCC. He said he is excited that every student will be able to have quick access to a counselor.
Katy junior Leann Mabry said she thinks Baylor Telehealth is a great idea because it is free and offers long-term care options that the BUCC doesn’t.
“It’s really nice that they are like, ‘Hey, don’t even have to worry about the cost; this is just to make sure that you guys are doing well, getting better and becoming the best versions of yourself,’” Mabry said. “I think that sounds like a great resource.”
Austin junior Tanish Singh said Baylor Telehealth is a good idea because it allows students to always have someone to reach out to if they need to.
“Everybody needs someone to talk to,” Singh said. “It’s also just useful because everybody experiences anxiety, everybody experiences compulsions and things like that. Some kids come from backgrounds where they don’t have a great support system, so this would just be nice for them to have something to hold on to.”
Boldt said that with the increase in mental health problems caused by the pandemic, it is important to work on issues when they first appear.
“Early intervention is strongly recommended to mitigate the mental health issues associated with trauma,” Boldt said. “I would encourage students to seek services earlier, rather than later. We care deeply about how students are doing and really want to get the word out — to invite students to reach out and give us a chance to help them.”