Throughout the summer months, East Carolina University's Center for Counseling and Student Development (CCSD) has offered telehealth therapy and crisis intervention for those in need and continues to prepare for the fall semester.
Associate Director for the CCSD Bob Morphet said a student must call to schedule a teletherapy appointment, follow through to be screened over the phone and directed to the appropriate counselor.
Morphet said he has been with the counseling center for decades and the transition to teletherapy was quick with little experience. He said he thinks the transition has gone smoothly and better than predicted.
“It’s going really well. I think I am a good telemental health counselor, and I would say the same for all of our clinicians here at the counseling center,” Morphet said.
The average age range of students who visit the counseling center is 18 to 24-year-olds, which is a generation born and raised with virtual mentalities that make teletherapy easier, according to Morphet.
CCSD Director Valerie Kisler-van Reede said the counseling center transitioned to virtual services on March 13 due to the coronavirus pandemic. She said, at first, phone counseling was offered, which then transitioned into the option of video conferencing depending on individual student needs.
Kisler-van Reede said the counseling center is currently prepared to work in a hybrid format for the fall semester. She said the way it operates will depend ultimately on what the university decides when that time comes.
“To keep our numbers down for respect to our staff as well as student traffic, we will most likely continue to do a lot of online or teletherapy,” Kisler-van Reede said. “We will have the ability to do limited face-to-face counseling depending on the situation.”
Kisler-van Reede said the CCSD has received new and improved cleaning supplies and continues to prepare for the fall semester for whatever it may bring.
Individual counseling, crisis services, after-hours crisis services, group therapy and outreach programs are available to students remotely, according to Kisler-van Reede. She said students enrolled in summer classes are eligible for summer services at no additional cost.
Kisler-van Reede said if students are not enrolled for summer courses but were enrolled in the spring and are enrolled in the fall, they need to purchase what is known as a “Gold Card” for $100 which gives access to counseling and student health services.
“If students aren’t able to pay for that they are given emergency resources that they can apply for,” Kisler-van Reede said. “We are not denying anybody services.”
Kisler-van Reede said the counseling center has focussed solely on the mental health needs of students as the coronavirus pandemic and racial dicrimination events have surfaced over the past few months.
In regards to recent traumatic events and racial discrimination that may have surfaced, the CCSD released a statement directed toward ECU’s Black community.
“We stand committed to creating an inclusive space, where all students can feel safe seeking support,” the statement said. “Please know counseling services are available to those traumatized by racism and to all students seeking support or crisis intervention.”
The full statement can be found on the CCSD website, alongside more information regarding teletherapy resources and services available to students in need.
The CCSD is open Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and if crisis intervention or scheduling assistance is needed, students can call (252) 328-6661. After-hours crisis services can be reached at this line as well, according to the CCSD website.
“For a list of resources related to black mental health, racism, coping with race-based trauma, and allyship please check out the resources listed on our self-help page,” the statement said.