As part of its recent quarterly meeting this week, the Virginia Tech Visitors Committee discussed student mental health and well-being, a very hot topic in higher education nationwide. Interim Vice President for Student Affairs Francis Keene outlines the mental health support structure in place at Virginia Tech, aimed at helping students develop good health habits and access help when they need it. introduced two new initiatives for
Nationally, the need for mental health counseling services on college campuses continues to surge, with demand at Virginia Tech increasing each year.
Virginia Tech scores highly on student retention, graduation rates, alumni employment, and diversity and inclusion indicators, but the university’s student health data is on par with national figures.
Students from vulnerable populations, including black, Hispanic, Asian, LGBTQ+, and financially vulnerable students, are at higher risk of mental health problems, according to the 2019 Virginia Tech Mental Health Task Force Report of Recommendations. indicates that
Housing Welfare Initiative
Launched this fall, the Residential Wellbeing initiative brings resources and programs to student living and learning environments. I have a live-in counselor. Focus on student leader positions that prioritize student well-being, engagement, and success. With ongoing mentoring and support from faculty and staff coaches, this initiative supports the overall well-being and mental health of Virginia Tech students by providing dorms with helpful resources.
“A culture of well-being must not only encourage change in individual habits and behaviors, but also include systemic and organizational changes to students’ living, learning and social environments,” Keen said. “Housing well-being is now everyone’s business in the Student Affairs Division.”
The Residential Wellbeing Initiative reaches students when they have the greatest opportunity to impact student wellbeing. So, from orientation to move-in, it’s time to enter the university community.
Virginia Tech has the largest number of full-time students in Virginia. The living environment is rich in opportunities to influence the mental health and well-being of students. Almost all undergraduates at Virginia Tech begin their dorm experience. The habits, patterns, and relationships that form during her first year can have a significant impact on a student’s trajectory of success.
In the Residential Wellbeing approach, equity and inclusion are inherently related to wellbeing, and focusing on the wellbeing of vulnerable populations of students enhances the wellbeing of the entire community. Residential Wellbeing Initiatives create small communities of students within residential settings to foster engagement and belonging. The roles of students and staff are changing from compliance and enforcement to community building, care and connection.
Virtual help with TimelyCare
Also new this fall is TimelyCare, a virtual health service recently added to Virginia Tech’s mental health and wellness resources. Provided free of charge to students, TimelyCare complements, rather than replaces, many of the mental health support structures in place at Virginia Tech.
Through TimelyCare, students can contact a counselor for immediate care, scheduled counseling, or health coaching. You can access her TimelyCare on your phone, computer, or tablet and choose between phone or video sessions. Students can register through her TimelyCare app or her TimelyCare website and are encouraged to register before they need services.
TimelyCare supports over 250 languages and provides translation services. The service can also access ADA through the app. Another advantage is that students can access her TimelyCare wherever they are in the United States, when they are home on vacation or off campus for an internship. TalkNow is available internationally using a US-based phone number or VPN.
After the presentation, Keen was joined by Natalie E. Cook, Assistant Professor of Public Health at the University of Virginia Maryland School of Veterinary Medicine and Dean of Honors Residential Commons. Saad Khan also participated in discussions with the Board of Directors. Khan, who graduated in December 2021, received a bachelor’s degree in clinical neuroscience and a minor in psychology, and actively advocated for his resources in mental health through his Virginia Tech chapter in his mind. He currently works at the mental health initiative He is Hokie Wellness as a coordinator.
A panel led a discussion on the most important issues to address regarding mental health and well-being in the Virginia Tech community. reported feelings associated with loneliness measured by scales.
Cook emphasized a holistic approach to helping students grow. “My role represents the leadership and leadership necessary to foster a vibrant community of living and learning where all members feel a sense of belonging, ownership and connection, regardless of major, background, identity or origin. I think it’s about providing a foothold,” she said.