As physical, psychological, and social well-being continue to be issues facing college campuses and beyond amid COVID-19, Ohio University has announced that it has received $31,451.61 in Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding.
The majority of the funding will be utilized to build and offer a customized tele-behavioral health platform through Apportis, to assist students with mental health and overall wellness. The grant funds will provide students with 24/7 access to a library of resources, and the opportunity for staff, faculty, and health professionals to share resources that are tailored to the unique needs of individual students.
"Anxiety and mental wellbeing are more important than ever, and nursing students taking clinicals simply can't be remote all the time. They have to be around each other, and that can create a lot of stress in the current pandemic environment,” said OHIO School of Nursing assistant professor Dr. Melvina Brandau. “Consequently, it is vital that we pay special attention to the mental health needs of these students and offer support, encouragement and education; we can address many of these needs through the support of this CARES Act funding.”
Interim College of Health Sciences and Professions (CHSP) Dean Dr. John McCarthy noted that such increased mental health support, combined with the existing robust services already available through OHIO’s Counseling and Psychological Services team, will provide another vital outlet for nursing students who are experiencing challenges on multiple fronts in the midst of COVID-19.
“Nursing students are studying to develop their skills, but they are also preparing for front line work in healthcare,” McCarthy said. “It’s critical for us to be proactive and creative in taking care of the whole student.”
A portion of the funding will be utilized to purchase equipment and software to develop innovative, virtual training resources. Additionally, students will receive training in recognizing and responding to mental health issues and substance use disorders, both as an individual and as a healthcare professional.
Mental Health First Aid: a nationally-recognized course with more than 15,000 trained instructors geared toward teaching students the best ways to identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illnesses and substance use disorders. The training also provides the necessary foundational skills for reaching out and providing initial help and support to someone who may be developing a mental health, substance use problems or experiencing crisis.
Virtual patient-provider role play: An interactive simulation module that will educate OHIO graduate students who are in enrolled in the Family Nurse Practitioner program. The simulation focuses on preparing students to identify and approach mental health and substance abuse concerns with at-risk patients via the use of motivational interviewing. The simulation will also help to support each student’s academic success and personal development.
“When combined, all of these resources will ultimately help our students to listen to their patients in a non-judgmental way and encourage them to be a champion for their medical needs,” said Dr. Sherleena Buchman, assistant professor within the School of Nursing.
Buchman also noted that the training opportunities will not only help future nursing students provide appropriate patient care – the trainings will help them assess and address their own self-care needs, too.
"The nursing students we’re training right now are the future of healthcare, and we want to avoid having a shortage of nurses in the coming years due to burnout,” Buchman said. “Our goal is to put every nursing student into the best position to help themselves, which will in turn position them to best help others.”
OHIO’s CARES Act funding was the result of an interdisciplinary team of University collaborators, including CHSP’s School of Nursing (Melvina Brandau, Sherleena Buchman and Char Miller), School of Nursing Academic Advising (Logan Waldie), Campus Recreation (Mark Ferguson and Tony Gregory) and Counseling and Psychological Services (Becky Conrad-Davenport).
The funding was also made possible with support from Prevention Action Alliance and the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services.