UMD brings back Virtual Counseling Option

DULUTH, Minn. — Back by popular demand, the University of Minnesota Duluth will offer telehealth counseling again this school year.

During the pandemic, many schools connected virtually with students. Last year, UMD launched its telehealth program, that offers remote mental health counseling.

Now, the university is bringing it back, after seeing how well-received it was by students.

Virtual, in-person, and hybrid counseling sessions will be available. Free of charge and covered by tuition.

In an interview with UMD Counseling Director, Jean Baribeau-Thoennes, she said that she was surprised by how many people used telehealth.

“Last year we did our initial appointments virtually and then we talked to students about what it was they wanted moving forward. We were a little surprised, we thought that everybody would want to be back in the in-person in the office, but that wasn’t necessarily the case for all people.”

Baribeau-Thoennes went on to say, it’s important to keep virtual options available, especially during the cold, Minnesota months.

“Our no-show rates for appointments went down. Somebody might be like “oh no my car is blocked in and I have to shovel,” and normally they might have canceled the appointment, but now they just call and say can I switch my appointment to virtual.”

The counseling staff is made up of seven members. Baribeau-Thoennes explained that the team is small, but mighty.

Although, they are hoping to add a few more people to this years line-up.

“I think it’s one of those if you build it, they will come. So no matter how many staff we have, we will continue to fill up the appointments. From two years ago, we’re down one position that we’re looking to fill.”

According to Baribeau-Thoennes, mental health awareness is a campus-wide goal, both inside and outside of the classroom.

“We really work as a campus to provide that support not just in health services, but with our academic partners, faculty partners, our advising partners, and other staff.”

The kicker is — providers can only give services in their licensed state. Meaning UMD students have to be in Minnesota to use the telehealth option.

UMD offers online counseling options as well. No camera’s, no speaking, just texting with a mental health provider.

You can access these on the UMD website under the health services tab.

To schedule a virtual counseling session with the university, you can call (218) 726-7913.

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