by AMANDA SHEWARD
This year, UMW introduced a new mental health support system called TimelyCare—available online or through an app—dedicated to expanding the reach and accessibility of mental health care to the student body. The resource is available to students 24/7, all year long, and it does not require insurance to use, but many students still do not know about the service.
TimelyCare contributes to the mental health help that the Talley Center provides to students, as it offers on-demand support, even when the Center is closed. Through the service, students can access TalkNow, health coaching and 12 counseling sessions free of charge. Psychiatric help is available, typically within a week’s notice, with a referral from the Talley Center.
The app can give free advice on how to adjust to college life. “I think also since I’ve heard that sometimes it takes the Talley Center a few weeks, this gives students more flexibility on their own schedule,” said a junior biomedical science major Rachel Walker. Students can make an appointment or ask questions through the app on their own time.
Counseling is “offered to currently enrolled students regardless of health insurance and is free for up to 12 sessions annually,” and the appointments can be made a week in advance, according to UMW Voice. After this 12th visit, they cost $79, according to St. Olaf College’s information page about the service.
TimelyCare’s on-demand aspect is offered through their program TalkNow, which connects students and providers in about five minutes to assist them with their mental and emotional support needs.
“I think Timely Care is a great addition to campus that has the potential to benefit the community. I have the privilege of using off-campus resources through my insurance for mental health, but those who don’t have that option may find this helpful,” said Megan Rinald, a senior environmental science and German double major. “It’s also great for people who don’t want to talk in person or don’t feel comfortable going to the Talley Center. If they are in need of counseling, it’s easy access that can be done through computer or their phone.”
TimelyCare was initially introduced in an email from Executive Director of University Communications Amy Jessee on Aug. 30, followed by another email from Jessee on Sept. 7 and referenced again in President Troy Paino’s Sept. 21 email.
Melissa Palgulta, one of the staff therapists at the Talley Center, mentioned that peer mentors and resident assistants talked about the service before the semester started so that they could recommend it to their mentees and residents, respectively.
However, even after these University communications, students still are not aware of the service.
“While I think it’s great the UMW added this as a resource, I’m not sure how many people will use it. I feel that it wasn’t well advertised as well as a lack of training on the app,” said Rinald. “The University may need another approach if they want more students to use their resources.”
To register for TimelyCare, students can download the app or go to the website and access their accounts through the login page. During the registration process, the site asks for student’s personal information, such as their name, preferred name, pronouns, email and address. There is also a language preference question that lets students select from English, Spanish or Chinese.
However, with its recent implementation, there are some issues to work out. Palgulta mentioned that there is a glitch in the system. She said, “some students are getting a message that they need a code to register.”
The error within the system is that TimelyCare doesn’t recognize student email addresses that end in @mail.umw.edu, but they can access their accounts with their NetID and the @umw.edu email address instead to avoid this issue.
“I think once more students are aware it’s free for some sessions. I think it would be beneficial,” said Walker. “College is hard and adjusting to a new place and how to balance your life.”
A previous version of this article stated, “Psychiatric help is available at a week’s notice.” It has since been corrected that psychiatric services are available, typically within a week, with a referral from the Talley Center.