Heartland Community College is set to become the first community college in the state to offer counseling services to its students by video.
Heartland's Director of Counseling Services Faye Freeman-Smith said the video counseling to start this fall is intended to help students who have physical limitations or take classes at its Pontiac or Lincoln campuses where no counselors are on hand.
“In-person (counseling) is always good and I’m not stopping that. This is just another tool to make sure that we break down barriers for students to have access to counseling,” Freeman-Smith said.
The service is offered through a program called Doxy.me. It doesn't require any software. The video chat is sent through an email link and doesn't save any data, so there’s no record of the conference once a session ends.
Freeman-Smith expects she will see more students requesting counseling assistance because of the new service.
“Students like technology and it’s the way they love to communicate,” Freeman-Smith said.
She added her office typically provides counseling services to more than 100 students each semester, primarily for anxiety, depression, eating disorders and grief.
Heartland’s student counseling is also promoting the use of mobile apps that help students with stress-reducing practices via mindfulness and meditation.
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