MADISON, Wis.—The University of Wisconsin System is moving forward on initiatives to provide telehealth counseling, support, and intervention as an additional option to students seeking mental health services.
Gov. Tony Evers has allocated $5 million in American Recovery Plan Act funds to provide UW System students additional access to mental health supports. The services are intended to fill gaps in existing on-campus services and will complement currently available counseling, psychiatric, and self-help resources.
“We want to do everything we can to help students succeed, and providing these critical mental health supports will help,” said UW System interim President Michael J. Falbo. “We recognized student mental health as a key issue to address before the pandemic, and we know the urgency has accelerated since the pandemic. We appreciate the governor’s support.”
The UW System is now inviting proposals to provide the following services for up to three years:
- Telecounseling: Expand the number, diversity, and available hours of counselors
- Telepsychiatry: Increase the number of psychiatric service providers
- On-demand support and intervention: Triage issues, provide support, and manage crises that occur 24/7
- Evidence-based self-help resources: Help students develop skills to better manage their mental health and well-being on their own
The UW System Student Behavioral Health (SBH) Initiative was established in 2019 to address growing mental health service needs among UW students. The goal is to provide treatment and crisis response, reach vulnerable populations, and create healthy campus environments that improve overall well-being. In particular, the telehealth initiative seeks to provide a short-term solution to alleviate the strain on resources resulting from a 60 percent increase in the use of university counseling services since 2010.
Over the long term, the UW System will seek additional funding to increase the number of full-time counseling staff at universities and improve access to psychiatry services, while also supporting population-level efforts to improve the mental health and well-being of everyone in our campus communities.
The University of Wisconsin System serves approximately 165,000 students. Awarding nearly 37,000 degrees annually, the UW System is Wisconsin’s talent pipeline, putting graduates in position to increase their earning power, contribute to their communities, and make Wisconsin a better place to live. Nearly 90 percent of in-state UW System graduates stay in Wisconsin five years after earning a degree – with a median salary of more than $66,000. The UW System provides a 23:1 return on state investment. UW System universities also contribute to the richness of Wisconsin’s culture and economy with groundbreaking research, new companies and patents, and boundless creative intellectual energy.