Thriving Together Series

Thriving Together Series: TimelyCare for College Students’ Mental Health

By: Kevin Ramseur II, Graduate Assistant for Suicide Prevention and Equity in Mental Health, Mason Doctoral Student, Clinical Psychology

“People may not have caused all of their own problems, but they have to solve them anyway.” – Dr. Marsha Linehan, Licensed Clinical Psychologist and Developer of the Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) Approach

The challenges of our new normal – racial violence, political upheaval, and health concerns from the COVID-19 pandemic – can feel overwhelming at times for all of us. It’s vital to take good care of our mental health to be well despite our challenges. A powerful way for Mason students to do so is through TimelyCare, which provides virtual mental health services anytime and anywhere in the United States.

More than any time in human history, people are speaking out about unhealthy levels of depression, anxiety, and chronic stress. According to a recent report by the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia, approximately 39 percent of adults in the area have identified mental health needs. Many of those adults are interested in therapy or counseling, but only about 60 percent of them will have those needs met because of barriers like stigma, availability, and cost. A majority of U.S. college students are struggling with their mental health, the American Psychological Association reports.

As college students in the COVID era, we are told by many of the people around us to prioritize our mental health, but often it ends there. Between the demands of classes, the pressure of parental expectations, the temptation of social media, and everything else going on in the world (you name it, it’s happening) there is a lot on our minds. Prioritizing mental health is a decision that looks different based on the skills we have, the challenges we are facing, and our goals in the moment. That may mean taking a night off from studying to get a well-deserved break or taking a night off from going out with friends to get some well needed studying done. When problems persist, or make us feel overwhelmed, there is also the option of turning to our support systems – family, friends, or professionals – for help. At Mason, resources like Counseling and Psychological Services,  Student Health Services, Student Support and Advocacy Center, and Student Success Coaching are all places where students can receive support at no cost.

For many students, however, increasing staff diversity, availability of care, and inclusivity have long been areas of concern. Students who are racial minorities often experience these barriers at greater magnitudes – particularly folks whose intersecting identities (gender, sexual orientation, religion, ability, etc.) place them in multiple marginalized spaces. Receiving support from someone who looks like you, sees the world the way you do, or has common experiences to your own, is an essential component of moving past small talk and surface-level issues and getting into deep conversations so we can address the roots of our problems.

The difficult truth is that while there are many barriers that prevent us from addressing our mental health concerns, it remains our responsibility to do so anyway, or we will face the consequences of inaction. In order to do that, we must be aware of the shifts in our stress levels and remember to take care of ourselves. Not only do we need to have conversations with our friends and family about mental health, but we also need to seek help for our mental health when it is necessary. When we are struggling, it is important for us to have empathy and compassion for ourselves and use every available tool to get help.

How TimelyCare Can Help with Mental Health

For decades, we have had resources available on campus for mental health, crisis support, and well-being. Mason has now expanded these services to include TimelyCare. TimelyCare offers free mental health services to students 24 hours a day/7 days a week/365 days a year, from anywhere in the United States. We can access a variety of mental health and well-being services on TimelyCare, including:

  • TalkNow: On-demand, mental and emotional support
  • Scheduled Counseling: Appointments with licensed, diverse mental health professionals
  • Digital Self-Care: Well-being content designed to enhance a sense of calm, rest, and self-esteem – available live and on-demand
  • Health Coaching: Support for lifestyle changes and developing healthy habits
  • Psychiatry: Access to licensed psychiatrists for scheduled appointments with a referral from CAPS, SHS, or your TimelyCare counselor
  • Faculty and Staff Support: Dedicated phone line to reach Mason’s team for student distress

Get started with TimelyCare by accessing one of these two versions:

  • Mobile version: Go to the App Store or Google Play store and type in ‘TimelyCare’ to download the app

The conversation about mental health does not stop here. It’s on us to work together as students, faculty, and staff to have open dialogue and support one another as a community.

Additional Resources
  1. Counseling and Psychological Services: 703-993-2380
  2. Student Support and Advocacy Center: 703-993-2831
  3. GMU Center for Psychological Services Emotional Support Line – English: 703-215-1898 – Spanish: 703-914-3878
  4. GMU Center for Psychological Services: and 703-993-1370
  5. MasonCARES
  6. Resilience Badge
  7. Mental Health First Aid

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