TimelyCare: From skepticism to self care

It is exactly the type of resource this university should be investing in.
When The University of Tulsa first introduced the new mental health resource calledTimelyCare, I was skeptical of its benefits and impact on the campus. I initially believed this healthcare app was a cheap bandaid to fix or cover up the current deterioration of our on-campus mental health facility, better known as Counseling and Psychological Services. Recently, there was a significant loss in CAPS staff, which has created a wait time of roughly one month for those seeking help. The wait for counseling at this on-campus facility is dependent on the severity of one’s need. Due to the inability to keep up with the mental health demand on the campus, TimelyCare was introduced to ease this concern.

My opinion of this app has greatly changed from when it was first introduced to me. At first, I viewed the peer support community area as a glimpse of what YikYak is on a depressing Sunday night. The idea of an online platform for mental health appeared to be a shift in focus and importance in hiring more staff at CAPS. I felt as though the university was placing mental health for its students on the metaphorical backburner. This seemed to be supported by the drastic change in the location of the CAPS facility from the Holmes Student Center, a central building on campus, to the Hurricane Health Center, a side-lying, hard-to-find building. However, as I learned more about these changes, I realized that this move might be an attempt to destigmatize and recognize mental health as a normal health concern. The importance of the student’s mental health was not being sidelined, but instead being more recognized.

The university introduced this app over a TU student email as an extension of the CAPS facility and stated their intended goals to improve student well-being, engagement and retention. The university understands that to accomplish these goals, the provision of accessible health care plays a crucial role.

TimelyCare can provide 24/7 care at no additional cost to the students on a virtual platform. It offers a wide array of features tailored to meet the diverse needs of students navigating the complexities of life. When scheduling a counseling session, the app allows the student to choose from a multitude of healthcare professionals varying in background, education, experience and specialized skills. This allows students to select a professional that can best navigate their specific needs. In addition to the counseling area, the app also has a peer support community, interestingly enough similar to YikYak, that filters the app user’s anonymous posts about their struggles and allows other users to uplift them. There is also digital self-care content available on the app.

To increase my understanding of this new resource, I downloaded the app so I could determine if this was a campus resource that I, a residential assistant on campus, would suggest. I loved this app more than I would like to admit. I would like to say that this was a cheap bandage for mental health that resembles YikYak, but that would not be true. My first session with this app was nothing to write home about. It was a basic first counseling session that focused on why I was there, what I was looking for and setting goals for future meetings. A few days after my session, I received a message from a member of the TimelyCare team that impressed me. In the message, the team member introduced themself and assured me they were a real person checking in a few days after my session. This person replied to my messages and reminded me of the app’s various resources that I can utilize at any time. I was impressed. It was a simple and small gesture that the TimelyCare staff provided to its users, but it held so much importance and care.

TimelyCare has many compelling aspects: it has a user-friendly interface, is virtually accessible, consists of caring staff and offers students multiple support services. It is a free mental health care app that students should utilize. The care I received was enhanced from the apparent care shown towards its users, similar to the CAPS staff’s dedication towards the students.

Post Author: Jeana Brewer