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Students voice opinions on remote counseling service

Michigan Tech’s Center for Mental Health and Well-Being has been providing online, remote therapy to students through the My Student Support System (My SSP) app for some time. Now, students have begun to weigh in on the success of the program, voicing both positive and negative concerns. The app currently has a 3.3 rating out of 5 on the Apple app store and a 3.5 out of 5 on the Play store, reflecting this mix of opinions. 

Aster Moen, second-year at Michigan Tech spoke with The Lode of their experience. “When I had reached out… they just referred me to My SSP,” Moen said. “There’s the wait time which is ridiculous. I think I waited for almost 40 minutes before being connected to someone.” In addition to this dissatisfaction, Moen expressed that the therapists they were connected to through My SSP were “insensitive” and “harmful.” When asked what they would say to another student inquiring about My SSP, Moen said, “try and press to get in-person counseling through Tech. And if you can’t do that, try and get a therapist up here.”

Another student, fourth-year Rebecca Stover, lent her experiences as well. Stover described herself as “a little skeptical,” preferring “in-person interactions.” However, Stover said she was later “pleasantly surprised.” “They were very unbiased.” Stover said, “and very much…Hey, we’re going to solve this together.” Stover reported her waiting time to be closer to “15 to 20 minutes.” When asked what they would say to another student inquiring about My SSP, Stover said that she still prefers in-person. “I like to be able to have a person to look at,” Stover said. Still, she encouraged students to “have this on your phone.” 

Despite her positive experiences, Stover noted imperfections within the app. “I was transferred between like three separate people to text with… I’d have to repeat almost everything I say which wasn’t helpful.” Stover also reported that after being told she would be sent additional resources after sessions, therapists would, “either would forget or send it like four or five days late.”

Addressing these concerns, Crystal McLeod, a clinical counselor at the Center for Student Mental Health and Well-being, stressed that My SSP is “intended to provide students with options.” Addressing dissatisfaction with call-back times, McLeod stated that “My SSP representatives report that the goal is to do so within one hour,” and that, “it really just depends on that call-back volume at the time.” Regarding multiple transfers within a session, McLeod said that “it shouldn’t be the case that one is passed along multiple therapists,” but that, “it may be the case that a student is presenting with a concern [or] need that would require consultation with another licensed mental health professional.” McLeod also stated that “it is acceptable for a client to request a new counselor if the client feels it is not a good fit. If a client… feels there was a problem in the interaction that they would like to report, there is a Feedback option on the first page of the My SSP app.”

In terms of efficiency, McLeod said that “if we considered My SSP a clinician, it is operating at a one clinician capacity.” This marks an increase from three-quarters of a clinician in November.

The availability of mental health resources on campus remains important especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. “The need for mental health services has increased significantly since COVID,” said Leslie Griffith, Outpatient Program Director at Copper Country Mental Health Services (CCMH). “Youth and young adults have been highlighted nationally for this need.” When asked about advice for students who had struggled with the availability of mental health resources Griffith answered, “I would say ask for help. Stigma exists but don’t let that stop you from seeking out the support that you need.” 

Tim Payment, Dual Diagnostic Therapist at North Coast Counseling Services echoed these sentiments, “Be persistent,” Payment said. 

If you or someone you know is struggling with a mental health challenge, you can contact Dial Help at (800) 562-7622, CCMH at (906) 482-9400, MTU Counseling services at (906) 487-2538, North Coast Counseling at (906) 523-5580, or Michigan Crisis and Access Line (MiCAL) at (844) 4464-225

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