CUNY expanding mental health services, offering crisis text line for students

texting cropped istock
Technology allows us to communicate more easily with people than ever before – but also to avoid them and vanish. Photo Credit: iStock

CUNY is expanding its mental health services for students during the pandemic and is offering 24/7 access to counselors via a crisis text line. 

Struggling students can be connected to trained volunteers by texting “CUNY” to 741741. Once connected, counselors can help texters “move from a hot moment to a cool calm to stay safe and healthy,” and then make suggested referrals for further help if needed. All text message exchanges are free and confidential. 

“The Crisis Text Line is just the first of many ways we are strengthening the mental health services we provide to CUNY students at a time when many are facing psychological burdens that can impede their academic success,” said CUNY Chancellor Felix V. Matos Rodriguez. “It is the kind of easy-access innovation that can help students cope with the many stresses of this uncertain and isolating time.” 

Other initiatives the city’s public university system is rolling out include providing 10-hour-long training courses in “telemental health”  to 120 clinical campus counselors and providing faculty and staff access to online mental health and suicide prevention training programs on the health simulation and training platform Kognito. 

CUNY leadership is also currently working to gain access to the New York City-based online and mobile therapy platform Talkspace to allow out-of-state and international students to access teletherapy since university counselors are prevented by law from providing services across state lines. 

The suicide rate in the country increased by almost 60% from 2007 to 2018, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released last year. Although the number of deaths by suicide was on the rise before the pandemic, a recent revelation from city officials that the number of public school students who have committed suicide this academic year is up from last year is causing concern among the mental health community. 

If you or someone you know may be considering suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (en español: 1-888-628-9454; deaf and hard of hearing: dial 711, then 1-800-273-8255) or the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741.

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