UW System enlists online behavioral health tool with self-help programs

COVID-19 brings needs into sharper focus, UW System president Tommy Thompson says
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MADISON, Wis. (WKBT) —The University of Wisconsin System has unveiled a new online behavioral health tool — SilverCloud — that offers self-guided programs for anxiety, depression, stress, insomnia and resilience.
The free tool, launched Monday, is available to faculty, staff and students at any time, on any device.
“While the behavioral health of our students, faculty, and staff has always been a high priority for the UW System, the current COVID-19 pandemic has put those needs into even sharper focus,” said UW System President Tommy Thompson.
“We are working hard to find ways to provide these vital services to our UW community and this online tool is a great option,” Thompson said.
The SilverCloud tool emerged as one of several strategies as UW System experts reviewed the behavioral health challenges students face, existing services and the need for additional services.
In April 2019, a UW System report showed that the demand for behavioral health support had increased 55 percent since 2010.
That report and other behavioral health indicators prompted the UW System to create three work groups to focused on identifying solutions and approaches to meet those rising needs.
One work group reviewed crisis management services for students at risk of suicide or self-harm. Another looked at targeted interventions for vulnerable student populations, including veterans, students of color and LGBTQ+ students. The third studied ways to foster healthy learning environments.
The UW System Board of Regents will receive an update on this work at its meeting in October.
Based on cognitive behavioral therapy principles, the SilverCloud self-guided program allows individuals to use interactive content and skill-building tools to manage day-to-day stressors personally and anonymously.
Studies have shown that online cognitive behavioral therapy can provide an effective form of care for those who are highly motivated and experiencing mild to moderate symptoms, UW officials said. The program can supplement traditional therapy or campus mental health services, while some individuals may use it without seeing a counselor at all, they said.
Faculty, staffers and students who want to learn more about the tool or register for it can do so on the UW website.