My SSP Supports Aggies’ Mental Health Anytime, Anywhere
Roughly 3,200 Aggies downloaded and registered with My Student Support Program (My SSP) in the first year of Texas A&M University’s partnership with the mental health support application. Getting the resource into the hands of all students is a top priority for university leaders as the partnership enters its second year.
“We’re working ambitiously at the beginning of this semester to get the word out so students can download the app so it’s there when they need help,” said Nancy Fahrenwald, associate vice president for University Health Services.
My SSP makes mental health resources accessible for all students 24 hours per day, seven days a week. The free, confidential service offers emotional health and wellbeing support via the mobile app or website. And no matter the student’s physical location, they can request support at any time through a phone call or the app’s chat feature.
Digital platforms are appealing for their convenience, Fahrenwald said, but are also critically important for students who may have mental health care needs that extend beyond typical work hours – about 70 percent of students connected to My SSP after 5 p.m. or on weekends.
Another notable takeaway from the first year: More than 70 percent of students reported tat they had never reached out for mental health support before using My SSP.
“They’re on their phones most of the time, and if they’re struggling, it might be an easy way for them to reach out and say, ‘Hey, this is something I’m worried about, do I need professional help?’” said Kristie De La Garza, assistant director of Counseling and Mental Health Care.
My SSP has been a valuable addition to the university’s efforts in providing mental health support for all students by encouraging early intervention and providing equitable access, De La Garza said. Notably, about 13 percent of users in the first year were international students. My SSP has dedicated counselors who can provide support in Mandarin, Cantonese, Spanish, French and English.
James Deegear, interim senior director of Counseling and Mental Health Care, said he encourages all students to seek help through My SSP for any issue they’re struggling with.
“Whether they’re dealing with depression, anxiety, adjusting to college, relationship issues, stress or just uncertainty dealing with the world, these are developing adults, so a lot of times it’s their first time trying to navigate these issues – and you don’t have to try to do it on your own,” he said.
In addition to short-term counseling appointments where students can request ongoing support for multiple sessions from the same counselor, the service also gives Aggies access to an extensive library of articles, podcasts and videos addressing a wide variety of mental health and wellbeing topics.
Fahrenwald noted that 20 percent of users reported they had never spoken with a friend, family member or advisor about emotional challenges. My SSP is a safe, convenient way for students to explore mental health help for the first time, she said. For example, they can complete anonymous assessments that provide helpful feedback on their mental health.
“I hope that everyone who knows about My SSP promotes it to others, because that’s how we can get it diffused within our university community,” Fahrenwald said.
One unique feature of the app that users may be unaware of, she said, is a feature that allows faculty members and staff to contact My SSP for advice on how to support a student.
“The investment President Banks has made in mental health support for our student through this virtual platform has been tremendous,” Fahrenwald said. “We’re working quickly to capitalize on that commitment to support mental health because we all know it’s important, no matter what role someone plays at the university.”
For more information about My SSP and step-by-step instructions on downloading and using the app, visit the Texas A&M My SSP website.