AU implements a new resource for virtual mental health services
Students can use YOU@American to assess and track their quality of health
American University recently teamed up with Grit Digital Health to establish YOU@American, a website aimed at offering students an outlet to explore various mental and physical health resources, as well as specific career tips.
This program allows students to take a self assessment of their mental well-being anonymously.
The website design, YOU at College, originally came into fruition with the overall goal of increasing access to mental health resources, as well as addressing high suicide rates seen throughout this country. The program has been implemented by over 100 universities across the country.
“Mental health does not happen in a vacuum,” said Paige Beaufort, the director of campus programming at YOU. “You can’t only address loneliness and depression. Students are dealing with a huge range of issues, usually a lot of them being at once.”
The program is divided into three sections: Succeed, which stresses academics and career success; Thrive, containing material on mental and physical health; and Matter, exploring life purpose and campus connections.
Students are offered various resources in each section, having the option to set goals and take self assessments on each category. After taking the assessment, the program will provide students with positive affirmations, tips on how to improve in each category and personalized goals.
Beaufort said the program’s launch is vital while most campuses are limited to online learning.
“This creates a separation between all the services and community connection that students are used to having,” Beaufort said. “With the YOU platform, we can represent and give visibility to all of those campus resources.”
Students may also adapt their profiles to their needs at that time, and can retake assessments, which the company hopes addresses the distinct struggles seniors and freshmen face.
After logging in to the website, students can access various articles relevant to current events. For example, articles about election day stress and how to make their voice heard are currently available.
Traci Callandrillo, the assistant vice president of Campus Life at AU, said that, considering recent social movements in the U.S., it is important to make resources on social justice and racial reckoning available to students.
In the future, the program’s goal is to destigmatize issues around mental health and make them less difficult to talk about. The organizing philosophy behind YOU at College is that allowing direct access to these resources is the best way to accomplish this.
Callandrillo stressed the importance of launching this program amid the pandemic, as there is a large majority of AU students living outside of the D.C. area that could benefit from these services.
“My ambition is that it becomes more built into the community of care on campus,” Callandrillo said.
A large part of why YOU was established at AU was to serve as a supplement to the Counseling Center. In January, students expressed frustration with appointment wait times and University management, which mostly resulted from a lack of resources.
Max Rubin, a senator in the Undergraduate Senate, said plans are being made to improve the Counseling Center, including increasing physical space and lengthening the available hours. These, however, are long-term goals; YOU serves as an immediate and effective resource, he said.
“What we’re trying to do is create more opportunities for people to relax, to enjoy their lives and their time,” Rubin said. “And we’re looking at accomplishing that through … making the resources work more efficiently for them.”
Rubin and other senators have been working to make counseling services that were originally on-campus accessible to students regardless of their location. Part of this involves preparing for the influx of student use of the Counseling Center when it eventually returns to in-person activity.