Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Togetherall promotes mental health and suicide awareness among students

CW / Susan Xiao

Togetherall, an anonymous peer support chat room, is promoting mental health awareness among college students. 

The online platform was brought to campus in January 2023 by the Counseling Center, which has since partnered with the Student Government Association and the Division of Student Life

Students can access the platform by going to the Counseling Center’s website, or through Blackboard Learn by navigating to the assist tab and logging in with their Crimson email.

Collier Dobbs, SGA president, said Togetherall was chosen due to the number of robust resources the platform provides. He said the SGA helped get the platform integrated to Blackboard so that any professor or instructor can attach it to their course’s tool panel tab.

Greg Vander Wal, executive director of the Counseling Center and Collegiate Recovery and Intervention Services, said Togetherall was purchased through a partnership between the Counseling Center, Student Life, and SGA, which makes the platform free for all students. 

The University of Alabama is the only SEC school that charges for individual therapy sessions. UA individual counseling requires a $15 charge per session after a student’s first visit, while group sessions are free.

Dobbs said counseling accessibility and prices have been an ongoing conversation within the SGA for the last two and a half years.

“I would love to see any barriers to entry to a counseling center taken away, lifted off your shoulders, really and truly,” Dobbs said. “We will continue the conversations, most definitely.”

Vander Wal said the platform works similarly to group therapy by allowing students to have a safe space to connect with other individuals on their own campus or other campuses across the country for peer support. He said mental health staff also monitor the system and can intervene if needed.

“It provides an alternative way to seek support for mental health,” Vander Wal said. “It helps students relate to somebody that’s going through similar things, which is a really powerful thing when you’re coping and struggling with concerns surrounding mental health.” 

Vander Wal said that almost 600 students have used the platform within the last year. He said the anonymity and ease of access to Togetherall is helping to reduce barriers around seeking help when it comes to mental health.

Steven Hood, vice president for student life, wrote in an email that he hopes students will take advantage of this resource.

“Engaging with peers who are going through similar experiences can offer helpful support to you, and the monitoring from licensed mental health professionals can help connect you to more comprehensive campus resources if they are necessary for you,” Hood said.

Vander Wal said the platform is reaching underserved student populations. He said that so far, 41% of the students who have accessed it identify as Black, Indigenous or people of color and 5% as transgender or nonbinary.

He also said Togetherall is reaching students who are at higher risk; 12% of users do not have any other form of support and 60% of users are not seeking any formal mental health support otherwise.

Another group Togetherall is helping to educate is the Greek life community.

Vander Wal said the Counseling Center often partners with the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life to provide training regarding topics like mental health and suicide prevention.

Dobbs said Wellness Week is another way the SGA promotes mental health awareness among students. Last semester’s Wellness Week focused on stress and mental health during exam preparation season.

Wellness Week usually occurs toward the end of the semester, and Dobbs said another one will take place this spring. 

Mae Farmer, a senior majoring in accounting and psychology and the 2023 Homecoming queen, wrote in an email that Togetherall builds community among students.

As Homecoming queen, Farmer’s platform focused on suicide prevention and mental health.

“We all know college is difficult, but sometimes it can be hard to talk aloud about things we are struggling with,” Farmer said. 

Farmer said she hopes mental health awareness will increase on campus as students continue to utilize and heal through Togetherall.

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