Telehealth service officially launched in response to increased demand

The Baylor Counseling Center launches its new telehealth service, providing students with the opportunity to receive virtual health services quickly. Grace Fortier | Photographer

By Matt Kyle | Staff Writer

The new telehealth service announced by the Baylor Counseling Center (BUCC) a few weeks ago has officially launched. The service, called Baylor Teleheath by Academic Live Care, is free to all students, providing students with quick and flexible scheduling options for online therapy appointments and allowing students who are not on Baylor’s campus to receive care.

Students can access the service by calling the toll-free 24/7 number at 833-969-3998. After calling the number, students will complete an initial assessment and then receive an email with a coupon code and instructions on how to access Academic Live Care’s website. On the website, students will be able to view profiles of therapists and select one to make an appointment with.

Students can schedule appointments more quickly than at the BUCC, and with the online format, they can also schedule appointments on weekends or outside the BUCC’s hours.

Dr. Randal Boldt, senior associate director of the BUCC, said the BUCC introduced this service to help with an increase in demand at the Counseling Center during the pandemic. He said data from the Center for Collegiate Mental Health (CCMH) at Pennsylvania State University shows a large number of college students who said the pandemic has negatively affected their mental health.

“[The CCMH] published this last year on over 43,000 students across the country at counseling centers,” Boldt said. “72% noted the pandemic is negatively impacting their mental health. 68% reported that it has strongly impacted their motivation or focus. 67% noted that it has led to feelings of isolation and loneliness. Overall, there’s a major increase in stress, social isolation and general anxiety.”

Teran Yaklin, a licensed clinical social worker at the BUCC, said the BUCC utilized a soft launch of the service before a wide launch to the whole student body.

“We were able to help our students who are utilizing our services to go ahead and start transitioning,” Yaklin said. “For students who are a good candidate for [the service] — wanting evening and weekend appointments — we were able to kind of get that word out there and receive feedback from students. That way, when it was launched fully for the whole campus, we already had a little bit of background of what information the students need.”

Yaklin said so far, Baylor Telehealth has received good feedback from students, who she said were excited about the flexibility of appointments and the speed of the service.

Yaklin also said the service allows students who are learning virtually from out of state or studying abroad to receive care, as counselors at the BUCC are typically only licensed in Texas, whereas Baylor Telehealth has counselors licensed in several states.

“Academic Live Care can also serve students who are out of state and international students,” Yaklin said. “For us at the Counseling Center, we are limited by our in-state licensure. There’s even some possibilities because they have such a large number of clinicians working for Academic Live Care. They said that they have some with dual licenses, who are licensed in Texas but also maybe licensed in Georgia. That was a big plus for us because so many times, students will go home for the summer, and we don’t want them to have that gap in treatment.”

Caleb Nelson — Kansas City, Mo., junior and president of Zero Reasons Why, a suicide prevention and mental health group — said he encouraged students to reach out and utilize the new service.

“There’s a lot of stressors that come with being a full-time student,” Nelson said. “I think it’s very important that students are able to find ways in which they can relieve that stress and find happiness in a way that is positive. I encourage any students out there — if they ever feel like they need some form of help — that they get that and they seek that, because there is nothing wrong with going out and seeking help, even if you’re not in a crisis situation.”

Baylor Telehealth by Academic Live Care can be accessed by calling 833-969-3998. Students can also access Academic Live Care through the BUCC’s website. Students in crisis can call the BUCC’s 24/7 number at 254-710-2467 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.