TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — About a quarter of Floridians in desperate need of mental health services went online for help in December. That’s according to a group that tracks how state money is spent on mental health care.
As the pressure of the pandemic weighs heavily on patients and providers, a small group at Florida State University is transforming their operation to meet the growing need. Now, they’re helping people beyond the Big Bend Rebound in these uncertain times.
“It makes me feel really great, but it also makes me excited about my future,” said Maritza Miller, a doctoral candidate at FSU. “We’re here to help, and we want to help,” she added.
Miller is part of a group in FSU’s Human Service Center offering free teletherapy to the community.
“We hear a lot about stress,” Miller added.
She said that stress has been brought on by the pandemic. Though the center has offered mental health services for over 30 years, now, like everyone, the pandemic forced them to rethink how they operate.
“Once the pandemic hit, we had to shut down our clinic,” explained Deborah Ebener, a Professor and Director of Clinical Training in the Department of Educational Psychology and Learning Systems.
Ebener says after a quick re-group last spring, they were able to offer counseling services to those in need over the internet.
“We’ve been open now consistently since March,” Ebener explained.
They are offering help to underserved populations in the Big Bend, including people who don’t have health insurance or cannot find services near their homes.
“We are able to work with children, adults and older adults,” Ebener added.
They are serving areas that may not have the support so many families are looking for right now. Ebener said this online therapy has really allowed them to reach out statewide.
Reaching more people is a mission Miller says she’s glad to be part of.
“It’s something everyone is going through. They’re not alone,” Miller said.
This free online therapy continues through at least the spring semester. Clients must fit certain criteria to qualify for service.