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UVA Expands Mental Health Care Through TimelyMD

As Director of Counseling and Psychological Services at UVA, Nicole Ruzek can see why so many students are in search of a therapist.

“There’s been the pandemic, but even before that we were seeing students in a lot of distress," she says. "Part of that may have to do with social media – kind of social comparison. Some of that could be due to climate change and maybe a perspective on the future that isn’t as bright as we would like it to be.”

Issues of race or gender trouble others, and with a staff of about 25, Ruzek says UVA can’t supply prompt, in-person therapy to everyone who wants it. So the school signed-up with a group called Timely MD – expanding the pool of professionals available to counsel students through their phones or tablets.

“We often have students who are looking for a very specific providers who are either from religious backgrounds or racial backgrounds or might have a specialization in, say, eating disorders or LGBTQ issues,” she explains.

Nicole Ruzek is Director of Counseling and Psychological Services at UVA.
Nicole Ruzek is Director of Counseling and Psychological Services at UVA.

Ruzek admits she had doubts about online care, but she’s now a believer.

“Many of us who are in person therapists were quite skeptical of telehealth, but over the last year and a half we all went home and worked remotely, and we were forced to do telehealth ourselves. We realized that telehealth could be just as effective.”

She says the service saw robust demand on day one, and other schools have been calling to find-out how it works. UVA will provide 12 free sessions through Timely MD, and students who need more help will be referred to therapists on campus or in town.

Updated: October 5, 2021 at 9:09 AM EDT
The University of Virginia is a financial supporter of Radio IQ.
Sandy Hausman is Radio IQ's Charlottesville Bureau Chief