USD Offering Affordable Tele-Mental Health Counseling

One USD associate professor said there is a sliding scale based on the individual or family's income thresholds that will determine the low cost of the service

University of San Diego USD
NBC San Diego

Affordable mental health counseling is now being offered via video-based services in English and Spanish by the University of San Diego.

USD opened a tele-mental health training clinic to help families obtain mental health services, especially to those in lower-income areas. The university said that the low-cost community clinic is offered to all, regardless of their ability to pay.

The launch coincided with the coronavirus pandemic, which, along with physical health concerns, is taking its toll in a different way. Amid the uncertainty and lack of structure due to everchanging laws and restrictions, work, anxiety and depression has been slowly eating away at more and more people.

"We've been seeing that more with our children and adolescents, who are getting services, is that isolation and depression of not being able to be socially connected with their peers at a very formidable time,” said Erika Cameron, associate professor and department chair of USD’s Department of Counseling and Marital Therapy. She helps run the university’s new mental health service.

USD said the clinic is staffed by five USD graduate-level counseling trainees, who are under the supervision of a licensed clinical counselor. Those trainees were trained to deliver mental health services from the comfort of the patient’s own home at a low cost.

The tele-mental health training clinic is geared toward people who can't afford counseling or who don't have insurance. While real-world sessions typically start at more than $100, USD's service starts at $45.

“We do have a sliding scale based on the individual or family's income thresholds and it can go all the way down to $5 for a 50-minute session,” Cameron said.

On top of the COVID-19 stress, mental health care providers are seeing people impacted by racial and social injustice, as well as the tension of a heated political season.

"So we've really seen what's going on in the news and the world of trauma is being filtered in through stress, anxiety, and depression within the sessions,” Cameron said.

The virtual program is two years in the making and Cameron said she never could have imagined how important it would become in a world of worry and social distancing.

For more information on USD’s virtual, low-cost mental health counseling, click here.

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