Post pandemic reality – Student health centers are overwhelmed

Student health professionals are being overwhelmed by a surge of medical needs as students return to campus – and so are faculty.

The COVID-19 pandemic stressed the healthcare system throughout the world. In its wake, medical health professionals are dealing with an increase in mental health services, routine screenings, and surgeries.

With the return to on-campus learning, student health centers are feeling the pressures of increased demand from students who delayed care or put off routine screenings due to the pandemic. Helping the increase in visits this year, students with cold symptoms are flocking to the centers to rule out COVID-19. Further, students are now more likely to start their quest for mental health assistance on-campus because they desire in-person discussions.

“We’re hearing from our partners that many students put off visits for routine care issues last year,” said Wellfleet’s Chief Medical Officer, Barrie Baker. “With most campuses fully open, student health centers are having difficulty keeping up with the demand that’s compounded by increased mental health visits, fatigued staff, and labor shortages.”

Campus faculty supporting student mental health

Another impact of the return to campus after a mentally taxing 18 months, is that faculty members are being increasingly asked to help students deal with mental health issues.

A recent report from the Boston University of Public Health found that almost eight out of 10 professors had one or more one-on-one phone, video, or email conversations with a student about mental health in the last 12 months. However, less than 30 percent of those faculty members were trained for such discussions.

According to survey principal investigator, Sarah Ketchen Lipson, “The vast majority of faculty members, myself included, are not trained mental health professionals, but we have a role to play in supporting student well-being. These data underscore a real opportunity to better equip faculty with the knowledge and basic skills to support and refer students.”

This highlights the need for improved awareness and training on mental health and student health resources on- and off-campus. Fortunately, according to the survey, two-thirds (68%) of faculty respondents agreed they would welcome additional professional development on the topic of student mental health.

Programs to help student members

As campus administrators, faculty, and staff endeavor to meet the dynamic health service needs of their students, they can turn to Wellfleet for help. With a network of 1 million providers, including more than 43,000 in-network virtual providers, student health center overflow can be easily mitigated.

To aid in COVID-19 testing, Wellfleet has teamed up with binx Health to provide a simple, cost-effective, testing and support solution for university clients. The solution also helps monitor and inform their populations about its spread and mitigation measures.

Wellfleet staff members are always working diligently to find solutions to meet the best interests of clients and their students.

“Our programs are designed with a focus on improving access to the right care, at the right price,” said Baker. “For colleges and their student members, we have a vast in-person network to meet their needs. However, if there is a preferred provider near campus that is out-of-network, our case management team is happy to propose a mutually beneficial agreement to serve student members.”

Additionally, student-focused programs are always being evaluated and enhanced. That’s why the Complete Behavioral Health Solution has been updated to include nearly 100,000 psychiatrists, Ph.D. psychologists & APRNs, and Masters’ level therapists. With nearly 5,000 facilities for inpatient and outpatient mental health and substance abuse care across the country.

Further, Wellfleet offers virtual and telehealth options for student members that can be accessed 24/7/365. With CareConnect, student members get the help they need fast, from licensed professionals. Plus, there is coordination with the student health center to ensure proper, and expedient follow-up care with the student’s preferred provider.

Learn more about Wellfleet’s student-first health plans and the newest student-focused features.

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