By Nathan Leakway
YORK College of Pennsylvania has recently partnered with TimelyCare, a virtual health service aimed at providing mental health and medical care to undergraduate students. The service provides 24/7 care via an app that students can download and sign up for using their YCP email address. Insurance is not required.
Services provided include 24/7 access to physical and mental health care, one-on-one sessions with clinicians in a diverse provider network, health coaching on eating habits, eating plans, and weight issues, and a variety of self-care content, amongst others.
Darrell Wilt, a licensed marriage and family therapist and director of counseling services at YCP for the last nine years, spoke to The Spartan about the decision to partner with TimelyCare.
“Historically, we have always been inundated with too many students,” Wilt says. “We wanted to try to do more to provide more comprehensive mental health services to students … and part of that was looking into virtual service providers.” Wilt has been looking into virtual health providers for a number of years. he says.
According to Wilt, TimelyCare is the top service provider to universities and colleges in the United States. These services, Wilt wanted to convey to students, are purely supplemental.
“[TimelyCare] is not replacing what we do; it’s an addition to what we do,” he says. “The services they provide help us to create one of the most comprehensive mental health packages for students of any college or university. It’s an exceptional thing.”
Here’s a link to a list of services that appears on the York College website.
A spokesperson for TimelyCare wished to emphasize the app’s ease of access and the diversity of its providers. “Typical consultations for on-demand services through TimelyCare begin within 5-10 minutes,” Andy Fenton, the senior client success manager for TimelyCare, says. These services can be accessed quickly and at any time, including after hours and during holidays. In fact, “40% of mental health care visits through TimelyCare occur after hours, underscoring the need for around-the-clock care,” Fenton says.
For Wilt, this round-the-clock access was a major factor in deciding to partner with TimelyCare: It “provides services to students during breaks and over the summertime. As long as they are returning the following year, they will have access to services throughout the summer,” he says.
One of the components of TimelyCare, TalkNow, gives students quick access to clinicians that they can utilize as needed in between appointments at Student Counseling Services. “We schedule every-other-week appointments,” Wilt says. “If something occurs for students between appointments, they can use TalkNow, talk to someone in that moment, and that will help support them until their next appointment with us.”
The average wait time for TalkNow, according to Fenton, is less than five minutes. “Less than the amount of time to walk across most campuses,” he says.
TimelyCare is currently being utilized in over 200 colleges and universities, and the impact has been measurable. According to Fenton, “60% of students who sought mental health support through TimelyCare said they would have done nothing if the service were not available”.
Effects on mental health in student populations have been overwhelmingly positive. Mental health visits account for 80% of TimelyCare visits, and “all students who presented as potential suicide risk have had positive outcomes thus far,” Fenton says.
So far, more than 1,000 students have downloaded the app, according to data obtained by the college’s Student Counseling Services (SCS). However, not all that download the app register for it. Students may stop in counseling services and obtain help on registering for TimelyCare if needed.
Wilt’s goal for the first semester in partnership with TimelyCare is simple. “Success for us would be … that we have enough clinical staff and access to services that students are not having to wait long at all to get appointments,” he says.
“We finally now have a system where, even students that have urgent needs, even if they are not considered emergencies, those individuals will have the opportunity to talk to someone very quickly, and that’s a complete change from what it used to be. It’s going to be phenomenal.”
Students with questions can call TimelyCare at 833-484-6359, Option 1 or Counseling Services at 717-815-6437.
Nathan Leakway is a sophomore Professional Writing Major.