College tuition is expensive, and it doesn’t look like it will be stabilizing any time soon. A portion of tuition goes towards classes and other services that the university provides which adds to students fees; such as the $200 added to your tuition for gym maintenance.
While exercising is a good way for students to stay in shape and de-stress, most students don’t actually use the full amount’s worth they pay in their tuition nor does the payment motivate them to go work out. If students are paying that much for something they don’t experience the full benefits of, then universities should be able to accommodate for a program that students will use, such as Talkspace.
Talkspace is an online therapy service where students get matched with a therapist based on their needs through their smartphone. After everything is set up, the student has 24/7 access to their therapist as long as the fee is paid. It is ideal for those with busy schedules who find themselves running all over town from school to work that cannot request the day off.
Talkspace would be a great investment for universities because the students’ needs would be met as necessary in contrast to the one-hour once-a-month session from campus counseling services. While that system allows the students to catch up on their work and request a day off, it isn’t frequent enough to address immediate stressors.
Universities would have peace of mind knowing that their students will get the help they need. Most students often do not find the need to talk to someone until later in the semester, around the same time the campus therapists are booked with several other anxious students. Working with Talkspace could resolve the sudden demand for traditional therapy on campus and still address the students’ anxieties.
Talkspace is more flexible and available than the traditional form of therapy. Now, students do not have to wait until a busy day like a Thursday exam that will cause them to push the appoint back a month and a half – again.
And never mind about commuting to an off-campus office or waiting for the next super blue blood moon for when your therapist’s schedule and your school schedule align.
Instead, students can easily send a text, record themselves or schedule a video call with their therapist. In some cases, with traditional therapy, students are advised to seek help off-campus, which can be too expensive for the student.
Speaking of cost, Talkspace is also cheaper. Clients have the option to pay by the week; the lowest price is $32 per week which comes out to about $128 per month, a feasible payment for students even if they only come at a stressful time like final exams. Compared to the $75—$150 per session with traditional therapy, the difference is huge.
Some universities have their on-campus traditional therapy sessions that cost less as well, which is something easier on the students since the on-campus therapy is designed for them. However, tradition therapy still struggles with balancing the availability of both the therapist and the student.
Unfortunately, Talkspace may not be as easy as it sounds on the student. Not every student can afford the $32 out of their own pocket.
College is a demanding time for students and their bank account. Not every student can afford the therapy payments, and this is where universities can step in to help students get the mental health aid that they deserve.
Just as the counseling services offer their meditation sessions and group therapies around the same time the semester gets more stressful, universities could roll out meetings with students to see if they can work through the students’ finances to get them covered to use Talkspace.
Recently, a fraternity set the bar for mental health coverage for students. Alpha Tau Omega includes about three weeks of Talkspace in their membership and offers a payment plan if the fraternity brothers feel like they need to use Talkspace more.
If ATO was able to incorporate some accessibility to its brothers, then universities should be able to help its students gain the same accessibility to mental health services. Universities could incorporate a few weeks, like ATO, or service for the whole semester, like a gym membership. Talkspace should be treated as an essential utility to the university, just as much as tuition cost because universities would not exist without its students.
Incorporating Talkspace as an extra utility for students in their college career would bring more awareness of the importance of mental health in a college setting. More people would feel comfortable sharing with friends and expanding their network of response to difficult times.