In an effort to address student concerns and needs regarding mental health support and services, Ithaca College has partnered with the mindfulness app Sanvello and is offering a free premium level version of the app to anyone. the world in college.
The college is a JED Campus, which is a four-year partnership the college launched in 2020. The campus is rated on student mental health offerings and JED helps the college improve and increase services. Sanvello is a JED partner and over 12 colleges across the country have partnered with the app. Sanvello fights stress, anxiety and depression and offers guided journeys, meditations and daily mood tracking.
Michelle Goode, program director at the Counselling, Health and Wellness Centre, said one of JED’s recommendations was to provide more opportunities for students to develop coping skills. She said she thinks the app will give students an additional resource to improve mindfulness.
“Our mission vision would be to provide students with health and wellness content education,” Goode said. “And also the skills they might need to be healthier and make healthier choices and decisions while they’re students that will hopefully continue after graduation.”
The college offers workshops and groups such as the “Building Your Anxiety Toolbox” group in which students can participate via the Psychiatric Counseling and Services Center (CAPS) or Student Leadership Institute programming, but Goode said she thinks students are often too busy to attend.
“[Sanvello is] as an extra layer of care and something someone can do, regardless of what they are currently going through, but certainly would not replace someone who might need to seek a higher level of mental health services,” Goode said.
The partnership was funded with funds raised from Give Tuesday in the fall semester of 2021. Giving Tuesday raised $22,287 and 73 donors donated directly to the Sanvello app initiative, raising $6,807.
Senior Michelle Pei, president of Active Minds, a student organization that focuses on promoting mental health on campus, said she thought the app couldn’t harm the campus community, but that it might not be good to put more pressure on students to seek help on their own .
“What [Sanvello’s] doing is super cool,” Pei said. “But at the same time, like any therapeutic meditation through your phone, the problem I have is that it’s really about putting therapy and helping–looking on you rather than providing resources or easing the burden.
Pei also said she thinks the funds could be better used to support and increase CAPS Services because she knows students who have struggled to get appointments in a timely manner. In 2015, a group of students on campus formed a campaign #getCAPSReady to push the college to increase CAPS services and counselors when student demand increases.
“I’ve also heard that CAPS has been a difficult process for many people in which they have had to be on the waiting list for weeks, which is not an ideal situation for someone trying to reach out. hand and get help,” Pei said.
Freshman Miriam Schatz said she hadn’t heard of the Sanvello partnership but wanted to download the app and try it out.
“College is definitely stressful and I think it’s necessary for colleges to provide mental health resources because it’s such a big transition for students,” Schatz said. “To me, I could probably contact CAPS, but I don’t because it’s a big process and I don’t even really know how to access it or how it works, but I think an app is easy and done. ”
CAPS has ten clinical staff members and tries to schedule initial student appointments within 5-7 business days depending on its Web page. Goode said the Sanvello app is in no way intended to replace CAPS and that Sanvello is an addition to existing services.
“We don’t want to replace the board because that’s not what the app is for,” Goode said. “For me, the phone app is a really awesome way that, in theory, gives everyone on campus anytime, fingertip access to the tools they need to deal with stress or whatever. that she is living at that time.”
Goode also clarified that the college will receive a number of people downloading the app with an Ithaca College email address, but no personal information about the user or who downloads the app will be shared with the college or CAPS.
Pei said promoting wellness on campus is always a good thing, but added that she hopes the college will always focus on promoting connections between people.
“I think if you use your phone and your apps to do mindfulness meditation… that much more power to you,” Pei said. “But I just don’t think it would be smart for your tech device to be the thing that houses all of your workload, all of your therapy, all of your entertainment. It’s too focused on that and not enough on human relations.