WMU expanding mental health tools during pandemic

Coronavirus

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — As colleges and universities prepare to go virtual under the new Michigan Department of Health and Human Services order, Western Michigan University has new online tools available to help with the mental toll of COVID-19.

The online platform You at Western was launched earlier this month. It includes tools that allow students to evaluate their mental health, make goals and be connected to resources.

Diane Anderson, the vice president for student affairs at WMU, says the pandemic is impacting students.

“A great majority of them have done what we’ve asked them, but the problem is that means that they’re a bit more isolated,” Anderson said.

WMU already planned to move online for the rest of the semester after the Thanksgiving break to reduce the spread of a fall COVID-19 surge.

The university has launched two new tools this school year to help address mental health, even away from campus.

“Students can take these tools with them wherever they are. Just because they’re going home doesn’t mean they’re not going to have a connection to Western and a connection to the resources and tools that we have available to because we care deeply for our students,” Anderson said.

The digital mental health tools are available to students, faculty and staff. It is the first time these new platforms will be available as the university moves to virtual instruction.

“We have also purchased another tool that is being utilized through our counseling center called WellTrack, a tool that really focuses on depression and anxiety and performance issues,” Anderson said.

Welltrack was launched at the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year.

When the pandemic is over, the university knows mental health will still need to be a focus and these new tools are here to stay.

“We care deeply for our students, and we want them to thrive. We don’t want them just to get through this pandemic. We want them to thrive,” Anderson said.

University leaders say no one should hesitate to address their mental health even if a virtual world sometimes makes help seem out of reach.

“Do not struggle in isolation. We are here to assist. We want to help you and we are available to do that,” Anderson said.

WMU will temporarily move to online instruction starting on Wednesday.

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