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Podcasting for Mental Health

New series focuses on mental and behavioral health disorders among college students

June 16, 2019
 
 

“One of every three U.S. college students shows symptoms of a mental health problem such as depression, generalized anxiety disorder or being suicidal.” [1]

Podcasts have been part of the digital engagement toolkit of university counseling and psychological services (CAPS) for quite some time.

Like a lot of digital initiatives, shows come and go, oftentimes with the ebb and flow of staff, as digital engagement may or may not be part of a job description.

However, just as podcasting as a digital genre has had a resurgence (although many would say it never really went away), CAPS units should always be up for starting up a new podcast as a way to reach students, build community, and share relevant resources.

At Florida International University (FIU), CAPS had a podcast series going back as far as 2014 that featured information on body acceptance, group counseling, healthy/unhealthy relationships, mindfulness, and ADHD.

Restarted by Psychology Doctoral Intern, Zina Peters, the latest iteration of the FIU CAPS podcast - “On the couch with Kiwi” features interviews with FIU’s CAPS clinicians covering a wide range of mental health topics including depression, anxiety, and sleep hygiene.

According to Peters:

“My public health background informed my desire to reach a wide audience and raise awareness. As such, I believe that communicating information about health and wellness should be simple and clear. I wanted to create a podcast that was relevant, approachable, and informative. In creating an atmosphere of support, I hoped to reach students that are unsure if they should seek help and remind them of the resources available on campus. This is why I chose to interview FIU CAPS clinicians, who work directly with our students. My hope is that the podcast helps to normalize conversations about mental health among college students by drawing attention to some common disorders within the university setting and familiarizing students with various CAPS clinicians.”

In keeping with accessibility standards, FIU CAPS is working on creating text transcripts for all of their podcasts to make them accessible (as well as easier for search engine indexing).

Going forward, FIU CAPS is filled to the brim with a variety of digital engagement initiatives. Priya Kirpalani, Training Director at CAPS, listed all of the activities that her department is working on to support students via digital tools:

“We currently offer Kognito, online screenings, Therapy Assistance Online (TAO), educational quizzes, videos, and a Kiwi Zone. Kognito is a game-like simulation to teach students, faculty, and staff how to have difficult conversations with at-risk students, while the Kiwi Zone offers student free content from their mobile devices, including coloring pages to aid relaxation. Future plans include enhancing self-help tools, including online modules and videos, as well as a web-based therapy pilot for online-only students.”

Does your university's counseling and psychological services department have a podcast?

 

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1] College students face unique mental health challenges via Iowa City Press-Citizen, 2019.

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