The NYU Wellness Center recently introduced a text-based therapy app available to students 24/7. The new app is meant to cater to the demographic of students that may need mental health resources but prefer to communicate over text. While the Wellness Center’s new text-based therapy is a positive resource for some students, it isn’t a comprehensive solution to mental health treatment.
The new text-based app offers a unique mode of coping during a manic or depressive episode. Because, unfortunately, there are a host of reasons why a student might not want to reach out to friends and family during a time of need. Perhaps it’s to avoid judgment from your loved ones or not burden them with your distress. With that and the idea of accessibility in mind, NYU’s new therapy app aims to fill that void. It provides a timely and appropriate pool of therapists to speak with and is a good resource to have for students who do not feel comfortable reaching out to a therapist in a more traditional setting. Additionally, it can allow for more anonymity and security, since it isn’t face-to-face communication and the app features therapists who aren’t based at NYU.
However, text-based therapy should be seen as more of a temporary fix instead of a solution to the upkeep of mental health as a whole. Relying upon this resource as a constant crutch can do more harm than good. Therapy is meant to be a long-term solution to working on mental health issues. It is meant to help those struggling mentally to integrate healthy coping mechanisms into their everyday lives. But the learning and practice of these vital mental health mechanisms may not be invoked through a limiting text-based conversation — incorporating these methods into your everyday life requires practice and long-term coaching.
Furthermore, therapy is an individualized experience that, for a myriad of reasons, may not work for everyone. The way in which text-based therapy may help one student won’t be the same experience felt by the rest of the app’s users. Students should be able to understand the benefits of finding a more permanent support system for dealing with mental health issues.
In a time when texting has become such a constant in our daily lives, the Wellness Center’s text service may be a great resource for dealing with mental health issues. Text therapy may be a critical addition to the toolkit of mental health resources, but it is not the only tool for the job. It is crucial to remember that resources like in-person therapy work to develop proper coping mechanisms — which may help lead to healthier diets, lifestyles and relationships — are equally important. Ultimately, a holistic approach is key to having good mental health; taking advantage of the many resources available is the best way to achieve that.
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A version of this appeared in the Monday, Sept. 24 print edition.
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