The University of Central Florida (UCF) Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) has launched a mental health support system for college students struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Called “Togetherall,” the system will provide an anonymous peer-to-peer support network that will allow students suffering from mental health challenges to connect with other people online and share their feelings.
The network will give participants the opportunity to connect with those experiencing similar struggles and offer help to resolve their problems. UCF assures that the system is facilitated and monitored by licensed mental health professionals to assist students.
“The most common reasons college students seek counseling are anxiety, depression, stress, and relationship issues,” CAPS director Karen Hofmann said in a press release. “The pandemic exacerbated mental health issues and we know our students have been experiencing more isolation and disconnection during this challenging time.”
Through Togetherall, students will be provided a chance to conduct self-assessments and take self-paced classes about a variety of topics, including time management, substance use, managing anxiety and stress, and goal setting. The school promises to offer real-time support mechanisms, regardless of the time or a student’s location.
‘Easier Support System for Students’
Launched during Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, the initiative will help the community normalize addressing depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues that might lead to suicide — the second leading cause of death among people ages 10 to 34 in the US.
From their mobile phones or computers, students who are grappling with mental health issues can get the help and care they need, even from Togetherall moderators who can reach out directly to participants in danger of self-harm.
“For many students, college brings new mental health challenges or magnifies feelings that were already present,” Togetherall general manager Matthew McEvoy said. “Togetherall is a safe space where they can find each other and anonymously, without fear of judgement, work through their shared lived experiences together.”
UCF will use Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds to finance the initiative. It plans to run the new support system for one year.