College student interest in teletherapy and self-guided mental health supports during the COVID-19 pandemic

Isaac L. Ahuvia*, Jenna Y. Sung, Mallory L. Dobias, Brady D. Nelson, Lauren L. Richmond, Bonita London, Jessica L. Schleider

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objective The COVID-19 pandemic has worsened college students’ mental health while simultaneously creating new barriers to traditional in-person care. Teletherapy and online self-guided mental health supports are two potential avenues for addressing unmet mental health needs when face-to-face services are less accessible, but little is known about factors that shape interest in these supports. Participants: 1,224 U.S. undergraduate students (mean age = 20.7; 73% female; 40% White) participated. Methods: Students completed an online questionnaire assessing interest in teletherapy and self-guided supports. Predictors included age, sex, race/ethnicity, sexual minority status, and anxiety and depression symptomatology. Results: Interest rates were 20% and 25% for at-cost supports (teletherapy and online self-help, respectively) and 70% and 72% for free supports (teletherapy and online self-help, respectively). Patterns emerged by age, anxiety symptom severity, and race/ethnicity. Conclusions: Results may inform universities’ efforts to optimize students’ engagement with nontraditional, digital mental health supports, including teletherapy and self-guided programs. The SARS-CoV2 (COVID-19) pandemic has taken a severe toll on public health, with effects reaching far beyond unprecedented illness and mortality. Levels of mental health difficulties appear to be rising broadly as the pandemic has progressed, both in the general U.S. population and among college students specifically.1,2 The COVID-19 pandemic and its repercussions may undermine college student mental health in myriad ways.2 Concurrently, students now face the potential for serious illness, loss of loved ones, financial strain, social isolation, loss of on-campus resources, and sudden disruption of routines—creating a “perfect storm” for the emergence or exacerbation of psychological distress.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)940-946
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of American College Health
Volume72
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 2024

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • College student
  • mental health
  • self-guided
  • teletherapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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