BetterMynd provides a digital means of meeting students’ mental health needs

Photo courtesy of BetterMynd via MSU Texas

Photo courtesy of BetterMynd via MSU Texas

Anne Akpabio, Managing Editor

BetterMynd is a social impact start up that was founded in 2017 to cater to the mental health needs of college students. This platform caters to the mental health and wellbeing of over half a million students located in over 50 campuses across the country through tele-therapy sessions with licensed professionals. The sessions are booked online through the BetterMynd online platform and students are paired with licensed counselors in the state they are located in. Students can access the platform registering with their school email.

BetterMynd positions itself as a platform that is interested in the success of students personally and academically and this aligns with MSU’s vision for it’s students 

“As part of our mission to stay relevant to our modern students we’re looking at services all of the time that we feel could benefit our students in their wellness. This pursuit has led us to create relationships with lots of differing services. BetterMynd had a compelling student-centered pitch that matched a need we were foreseeing for expanded service delivery options for our students,” Zach Zoet, assistant director of the counseling center, said.

BetterMynd partners with higher education institutions to provide counselors with diverse specialties and backgrounds to college students. This aides the counseling center in providing more diverse mental healthcare alternatives to students in MSU.

“The second thing that we really wanted to provide for students was some diversity in the counselors that we had to offer to students. We do have diversity in some aspects in this center however we wanted more. BetterMynd specifically looks to employ counselors who will satisfy the need for more diversity,” Pam Midgett, director of the counseling center, said.

BetterMynd provides expanded accessibility to mental healthcare outside the traditional 8am to 5pm time frame. The platform provides counseling during hours that the school’s counseling center may not be able to provide assistance to students.

“At MSU Texas we have our counseling center which is great and they do a fantastic job but it is limited because we have a limited number of professional counselors who are operating through a Monday through Friday 8am through 5pm environment. In reality what occurs is that over the last several semesters we have reached points during semesters that we have had our first available counseling appointment up to two weeks, sometimes three weeks into the future. So when a student is struggling with their mental or emotional health and they then find out from the university that we do have this service available but we cannot see you for two weeks, that’s not helping them and so they may then be thinking about ‘am I going to be able to be successful in college?’, ‘Do I need to leave?’, ‘Do I need to take care of this?’. It’s a chance that those issues could further worsen because they are not able to receive that support or assistance as they process through whatever difficulties or decisions that they are facing,” Matthew Park, associate vice president of student affairs and dean of students, said.

Through the flexibility and access provided by the BetterMynd platform, MSU is able to better attend to the mental health needs of its students. The BetterMynd platform serves as an extension of MSU’s mental health support services, the platform is custom designed to fit the needs of the MSU student body.

“We did some onboarding with BetterMynd, they spent a great deal of time with us, asking all sorts of questions so that the counselor that a student would be speaking with would feel as though they are speaking to someone who knows what goes on at MSU,” Midgett said.

BetterMynd is HIPPA and FERPA compliant, this means that student information, treatment records and the information obtained from student sessions are secure and confidential.

“The only thing that the counseling center knows about is essentially they know this students who utilize or sign up for the service, how many sessions they utilize, and that’s basically about it. The students have to sign us a very specific release form with BetterMynd, in order for BetterMynd to share any information about what that student is experiencing back to the university. It’s all really putting the student into the navigating seat so they can choose the path for their own care and support based on their needs or interests,” Park said.

After registering for sessions on the platform, students can access the virtual counseling conference sessions from their smartphone or other electronic devices.

“I think some students will enjoy knowing that they’re still going to receive the support and assistance from a trained and licensed professional. There’s a competency clear but they may like knowing that they’re doing it from the comfort of their own room, their own home, their own bedroom, not having to walk into the counseling center on campus where someone may see them walking into that space they may see another student who they know,” Park said. 

BetterMynd provides five free tele-therapy sessions to all students who register to their online platform through their student email.

“The five session count is a default setting on the BetterMynd site. There is no five session limit planned by the counseling center on this site. A lot of universities struggle with significant demand that outstrips their ability to provide unlimited services. Our counseling center adopts different strategies to control utilization other than session limits,” Zoet said.

After the five free sessions offered to students through BetterMynd, students can still have access to free tele-therapy sessions on the platform. Continued access to the platform would entail communication between the student and the counselor on their progress and if more sessions are needed by the student. The free sessions and the services provided by the BetterMynd platform are provided for by the grant awarded to MSU by the State of Texas and come at no cost to the student body.

“We were able to extend this service through a grant available from the state of Texas – The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. We are already seeing  positive results …..being able to provide a service like this without any implication for like raising tuition or fees or any direct cost to students it’s really part to us but that becomes by way of the university being able to identify apply for and receive a grant through the state of Texas,” Park said.

The diverse background and specialities of the counselors at BetterMynd allow them to help students of any demographic experiencing mental health issues.

“Right now all of our professional counselors identify as white or Caucasian well what if there’s a student who is just not really comfortable with that setting and they may prefer to connect with the counselor who shares the same racial or ethnic identity as they do. The BetterMynd service gives us an opportunity to better connect or facilitate that match in order to benefit the student and so that’s been one of the one of several kind of the positive outcomes that we’ve seen from this so far,” Park said.

The BetterMynd platform is now available for MSU students to take advantage of. Access to the platform can be gotten from the link sent out by the postmaster on Sept. 8, 2022 or on the MSU Texas portal under Matthew Park’s announcement.