Black Christian College Offers Students Free Online Therapy Amid Rise in Lockdown Stress

The entrance sign at Jarvis Christian College in Hawkins, Texas | Wikimedia Commons/Hot Furnace
The entrance sign at Jarvis Christian College in Hawkins, Texas | Wikimedia Commons/Hot Furnace

Students at a historically black Christian college in Texas, as well as several other colleges across the nation, will have access to free mental health therapy for one year as many struggle during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As students are now forced into a period of remote learning during the fall semester, Charles Smith, vice president of Student Services at Jarvis Christian College, explained that the school is seeing that some “students are really dealing with some mental health problems.”

“They are just going through stress and all kinds of things with parents losing jobs and them not being able to return to school,” he told The Christian Post. “We have students who rely on us as a place for them to live. We have some students who have also been homeless and they are not able to return to residence halls. A lot of them are dealing with other issues of mental health.”

Jarvis Christian College, which is affiliated with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in East Texas, announced this month that it received a grant from the Thurgood Marshall College Fund allowing it to give students struggling mentally during the pandemic access to licensed therapists through META Teletherapy.

META describes itself as an “online wellness platform built specifically for students to connect with counselors for private and secure counseling via mobile platform.”

“The [United Negro College Fund] did a survey for schools that are part of UNCF. When we got our data back, our data indicated that 68% of our students had indicated that there had been a significant decline in their mental health and financial well-being,” Smith said.

Jarvis Christian College was contacted by the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, a nonprofit organization that serves historically black colleges and universities. Smith said the organization provided a grant for the college to be able to partner with META to offer anonymous therapy for students.

“For a year, they told us that this service would be free for our students until September 2021,” Smith said. “This service is 24 hours a day, seven days a week. META has put together a group of licensed therapists who are certified. They also have an app that students can download, allowing them to select a counselor that they feel comfortable with based on their background.”

The students will be able to contact the counselors and make appointments through the video-based telemedicine app.

“They are also taking care of the cost for the therapists’ time,” the college’s vice president said of the grant. “In addition to us using META through their platform, they are also paying for the time that the students spend with the therapist. They can have up to, I think, about five sessions.”

While Smith couldn’t recall the total amount of the grant, he assured CP that “all the costs have been taken care of through the grant.” He added that Jarvis knows of at least seven to 10 other historically black colleges and universities that are also receiving grants to partner with META.

The new partnership is expected to take a large load off the college’s lone counselor.

“We have one counselor trying to service our 700-plus students,” Smith explained. “So we see this is another resource to where, if they can’t get ahold of [the counselor], they can at least get online and find someone they can talk with.”

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Source: Christian Post