By: Alexis Stallard, Editor-In-Chief
Mental health is a topic that has been more openly discussed over past several years, especially after the isolation of COVID-19 caused a spike in depression and suicide rates.
October is mental health awareness month, and Newman offers students counseling and therapy resources through the Virtual Care Group. The service is available to all students for free all year long.
Mental health services, though, is not all that the program offers, said, SGA Vice President Elizabeth Raehpour.
“The primary misunderstanding about VCG is that it is solely a mental health treatment,” Raehpour said. “VCG offers mental health services and telehealth physical services.”
SGA has spent several meetings this semester discussing the purpose of offering these services and whether it was worth the cost. Newman spends over $3,000 per month for the service but it has received low usage from students. However, Raehpour said that SGA is currently working on new ways to promote the service to students.
Since Newman does not have a health services office on campus, the Virtual Care Group is the alternative. Out-of-state or even out-of-country students can use telehealth services for minor illnesses, such as the flu, and have prescriptions sent to local pharmacies. Some pharmacies will even discount medications up to 85% off when students use the Virtual Care Group.
Raehpour said that she attributes the low usage of the Virtual Care Group to the negative stigmas behind mental health.
“Caring for one’s mental health is always important, but it is especially important to do so while in high-stress academic environments,” Raehpour said.
Students needing help with their health, either mental or physical, can go to www.thevirtualcaregroup.com/newman. For free access, they should enter their name, date of birth and Newman’s zip code, which is 67213. The Virtual Care Group is also available on the app store for easier access.
Editor's note: Original publication had an error in one of Raehpour's quotes. It should have read "VCG offers mental health services and telehealth physical services." (10/19/2022).
PHOTO: Cole Farquhar, Staff Photographer