Western has launched two new digital mental health supports for students: Togetherall and Wellness Navigator. These new applications are designed to help students manage their well-being remotely, while also directing them to access in-person resources when they need them.
“Since the pandemic, students have become accustomed to accessing services remotely. We want to have options for those students, besides those who come to campus in-person,” said Dr. Sonya Malone, interim director of Wellness & Well-being at Western.
“There is also no optimal time or method universally suitable to engage students. They are going through a variety of experiences at their own pace, and we need to make our services flexible to meet their ever-changing needs,” she said.
To offer remote 24/7 support to students, Wellness & Well-being has partnered with Togetherall, a global peer-to-peer support service which Western students can access for free.
“Togetherall is monitored by trained therapists, and participants remain completely anonymous. This means students can feel comfortable asking questions or providing supportive comments to others about all topics, even sensitive ones. The site is monitored in such a way that bullies and trolls are not able to post harassing comments,” said Malone.
“If someone writes a post expressing concerning thoughts, plans, or behaviours, a therapist will reach out to that person quickly to offer the most appropriate support and resources to address their immediate situation.”
The platform creates a safe and inclusive environment for students to connect with others around the world, sharing similar experiences.
“Togetherall is intended to provide students with a ‘community’ even if they may be physically or emotionally alone. There are always other people out there in the world who have experienced similar challenges and successes and would be happy to share their lessons learned. Likewise, there are many kind and caring folks who are willing to provide an alternative viewpoint for consideration,” said Malone.
The Wellness Navigator is another new service for students, funded by the Parr Centre for Thriving. The platform offers a confidential self-assessment for students to monitor their own mental health and well-being. This self-assessment can be taken as many times as the student wants and will recommend resources, based on their scores.
Sua Lee, a fourth-year student studying consumer behaviour and psychology, shared her experience testing these new services.
“Before engaging with these resources, I had assumed that my mood and well-being were stable, and that I was mentally healthy. However, the self-assessment revealed a different reality. It showed that, despite my perceived stability, there were underlying worries and stressors that I had unconsciously been avoiding. These results led me to realize how easy it is to overlook and misconceive my own mood and well-being.”
By utilizing Togetherall and the Wellness Navigator, Lee was able to gain deeper insight into her mental health while learning what resources would best help her improve her well-being.
“As my experience shows, access to comprehensive wellness resources empowers students to actively engage with their mental health. These resources act as a proactive measure, bringing attention to neglected aspects of mental health and offering the necessary tools and support for students to navigate their challenges more effectively,” she said.
“I believe that this preventative approach is crucial in a university setting where stressors are abundant, and the risk of mental health challenges are heightened.”
Students can learn more and access these services here.