UVU’s Mental Health Services have certainly been a bright spot in the dark landscape that is the current global pandemic for students and faculty alike. For the second year in a row, Mental Health Services has received a Sorenson Legacy Grant which totals $74,856.
The grant was officially offered to Mental Health Services to fund continuation and expansion. However, the fund also uniquely supports the post-doctoral fellowship that currently exists in the Mental Health Services program and is intended for the continued education of therapists in training.
With this additional funding and subsequent staffing of therapists in training, Mental Health Services are able to offer more hours of service to students with a greater range of therapies becoming available.
Dr. Taige Bybee, director of mental health services, recognized that “the need for mental health intervention is critical, yet difficult to meet without therapeutic resources. This grant enables us to employ more therapists to meet the widespread demand for treatment across UVU’s campus,” in an interview with UVU Communication Specialist Erika Sargent at the end of February.
The response of a grant in the face of this “widespread demand” has proven an apt decision in the statistical analysis of Mental Health Services here at UVU. In early October, I spoke with Mental Health Services to get a grasp on how the office had been affected by COVID-19. I was surprised to discover that the office experienced “no decrease” in its attendance despite COVID-19.
This could be due in part to the office’s determination to support patients regardless of circumstance, and the impressive turnover time the office had for enforcing health and safety protocols. In any case, Mental Health Services has seemed to thrive in the face of difficulty, persistent in its ability to help students through trying times.
Clearly, this persistence has paid off. Bill Erb, director of student health services, broke down the impressive comparison of accessibility statistics in 2019 to 2020.
“We have had a 300% increase in the number of clients who requested individual therapy and were offered it. We went from 74% of clients being told the waitlist was full in 2019 to only 26% in 2020,” Erb said, “So, very similar numbers to last year but [with] huge improvements in accessibility.”
Increases in accessibility means that students at UVU have more of an opportunity to seek help, should they need it. According to Erb, this grant, among other things, is responsible for such results.
While no specific details will be released on exactly how the grant will be appropriated into Mental Health Services, students can be sure that the office continually aims to improve itself for their benefit.
“As therapists, we are passionate about providing exceptional care to UVU students. We aim to stay on the cutting edge of science to inform our services and are continually engaged in furthering our expertise,” the office wrote in an email to students in early October.