Universities Expand Mental Health Services To Reach Students Remotely

May 7, 2020

UNC Chapel Hill Counseling and Psychological Services staff. Doctor Allen O'Barr is kneeling farthest to the left in white shirt and beard.
Credit UNC Counseling and Psychological Services

Some universities are expanding their mental health services to reach students remotely.

Doctor Allen O'Barr is director of UNC Chapel Hill's Counseling and Psychological Services. He's been seeing students through confidential online conferences. That allows the office to maintain on-going services and help students cope with new stress or grief related to the coronavirus pandemic.

"It can feel very alone and disconnected to be socially isolated," he said. "And yet I think where we're heading from this is a new level of connection that may really improve how we operate nationally and globally."

O'Barr said the circumstances have pushed his office to try new ways of serving students.

In addition to offering telehealth appointments to dozens of students a day, UNC Chapel Hill counselors are posting daily mental health tips on social media. The university is also offering an online support group focused specifically on dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.