Counseling & Consultation Services' pivot to remote service delivery in the context of COVID-19 earned the team a 2020-21 NMU Technology Innovation Award. The multidisciplinary team of licensed counselors, social workers and psychologists includes (pictured clockwise from top left): Shelley Brandow, Christina Hartline, Jennifer Gorton, Jean Kupper and Mary Etchison.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, all CCS counseling services were conducted in person. Converting to remote delivery beginning in March 2020 involved an extensive and time-intensive process that included creating a model of treatment that did not exist at NMU.
Providing mental health services through telehealth is a specialized modality with both legal and ethical considerations, the team wrote in a response to the award. Counselors committed themselves to extensive research and continuing education, and became Certified Clinical Telemental Health Providers.
“After completion of training, CCS faculty undertook the onerous task of creating a new telehealth policies and procedures manual, which included researching best practices in telehealth, acquiring information from other university counseling centers, and deliberating on what would best fit the needs of the NMU campus community.”
Once this was finalized, CCS faculty reviewed and revamped the pre-counseling paperwork in order to reformat all forms into a web-based design. Faculty worked extensively with NMU's technical support staff and developed a service delivery system that meets the highest standards of providing care.
“CCS faculty take pride in providing timely and competent mental health services to our students and the University community. When we heard that we were the recipients of the award, we were both greatly appreciative and excited to receive this recognition from our colleagues and peers.
“Continuing to meet the needs of our student population during this difficult time of the COVID-19 pandemic is both heartening and rewarding. We thank the community for this recognition and continue to wish everyone safety, good health and well-being.”
The mode of service delivery may have changed because of the pandemic, but the mission of CCS has not. It strives to provide high-quality professional services that promote mental health, crisis stabilization and personal growth and development, while supporting student success, diversity and engagement in learning and academic excellence.