For college students, telehealth offers access to mental health services


TimelyCare, a virtual care company focused on higher education, offers counseling and behavioral health services around the clock.

Many college students grapple with anxiety, depression and other mental health issues.

Seli Fakorzi, the director of mental health operations at TimelyCare, says telehealth offers accessible options for college students. (Photo: Ron Southwick)

Seli Fakorzi, the director of mental health operations at TimelyCare, says telehealth offers accessible options for college students. (Photo: Ron Southwick)

But college students, with busy and often erratic schedules, don’t always find it easy to get mental health services.

Some colleges and universities are partnering with TimelyCare, a virtual health provider focusing on higher education. The company is working with 300 institutions nationwide and offers mental health services via telehealth.

TimelyCare offers mental health and support services around the clock, including counseling and psychiatry. Seli Fakorzi, the director of mental health operations at TimelyCare, said that round-the-clock access is important for college students who are in class throughout the day and engaged in extracurricular activities or jobs in the evening.

“They value accessible mental health resources, particularly virtual counseling, and teletherapy,” Fakorzi said in a recent interview. “So that's been an added benefit for them, so that they can address their mental health issues.”

Students are grappling with a host of pressures, including anxiety from having much of their college experience taking place during the COVID-19 pandemic. TimelyCare surveyed college students and found their mental health was the top source of stress (55%), followed by their physical health (40%) and their finances, including the costs of tuition and their mounting student loan debt (32%).

More students are interested in getting mental health services, but students aren’t always going to be able to reach out for help during the day, Fakorzi says.

“TimelyCare emphasizes the need for that immediate access to mental healthcare for college students,” she says. “Connecting with students promptly and conveniently, is really crucial to prevent further distress, and support their academic success. So no matter where they are, they can get the support that they need.”

“They don't have to worry about timeframes,” she adds. “They don't have to worry about schedules, and they can incorporate athletics, working somewhere, even raising families.”

Some college students seek counseling via telehealth while lying in bed, Fakorzi says.

The company has licensed providers in all 50 states, ensuring students have access to assistance if they are home on break or visiting another campus.

With students being able to get assistance virtually, Fakorzi says it reduces some of the stress patients have when accessing services in person, including hassles with transportation or being seen going into a provider’s office.

“So when providers are connecting with students, and they're building these relationships, it's on the student’s terms,” Fakorzi says. “It's when they have time, it's when it's accessible. They don't have to worry about transportation. They don't have to worry about the scheduling.”

TimelyCare is focused solely on providing services to college students. And telehealth is appealing to a generation that is very accustomed to being online.

“We're talking about a population of students and users that have grown up with an iPad in their stroller basically,” Fakorzi says. “So being able to connect in a comfortable space while laying in bed is extremely attractive to them. It gives them control over the process, not only the scheduling of it, but when, where and how I'm going to connect.”

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