OU introduces WellTrack to help students' mental health
The Athens Messenger - 1/30/2018
Ohio University students have a new option for managing stress in college. The university rolled out a new tool this month called WellTrack, which acts as an on-demand, online therapy and is free to all current students.
The tool is accessible via the internet or through a phone app. It allows users to monitor their mood, set goals, experience through guided relaxation and monitor progress. The app is entirely self-directed and is completely confidential. Several other U.S. colleges have already integrated the service into their counseling services.
Paul Castelino, associate director of counseling and psychological services at OU, said the app was selected because it allows students to use the treatment on and off campus.
"WellTrack is best suited for students who have mild to moderate concerns with stress, as well as symptoms of depression and anxiety, including social anxiety," Castelino said via email. "It can help students identify how much of an impact stress is having and implement tools to support them."
One of the main points Castelino made was that although the service can be a good way to initially treat mild to moderate symptoms, but students experiencing more serious concerns should seek in-person services, such as drop-in hours (Monday-Friday from 9:45 a.m. to 3:15 p.m.) on the third floor of Hudson Health Center, the crisis line 740-597-7233 or the OU Police Department.
Justin Wheeler, a clinical social worker at counseling and psychological services, is the department's liaison with regional campuses and works with regional campuses in implementing WellTrack. He said the service includes programs like the "Zen Room" which promotes relaxation skills, the "Activity Scheduler" to help identify mood-enhancing activities and a "Thought Diary" to help students work through "their emotions, beliefs and actions in specific difficult situations."
"Overall WellTrack emphasizes psychoeducation regarding factors that contribute to depression and anxiety, as well as opportunities to increase skills for successfully managing these experiences," Wheeler said. "WellTrack is also programmed to provide phone numbers for emergencies and mental health agencies in respective campuses."
According to a study from the National Alliance on Mental Illness, more than 75 percent of mental health conditions begin before the age 24, making college a crucial time to address such issues. Several studies have found that the number of college students exhibiting self-harm or suicidal tendencies has risen over the past few years, and a study from UCLA'sHigher Education Research Institute found 12 percent of incoming freshmen are frequently depressed.
The National Council on Disability, an independent federal agency, found in 2017 that colleges are struggling to provide adequate mental health services, mainly because of the increase in students looking for help with their mental health but lacking the financial resources to receive it.