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The State University of New York announced that the system has increased its array of mental health services by expanding its partnership with a platform that connects students to off-campus providers and university-provided teletherapy, according to a press release.

SUNY has expanded its partnership with Thriving Campus, a web application that refers students to a network of 6,000 licensed mental health care providers, which will eliminate some barriers students face when seeking help beyond their college counseling center, the press release said. The platform, which will now be available across all SUNY campuses, simplifies the referral process for students who need “specialized, long term care,” the press release said. Students in general say the process of getting a referral from their college counseling center is lengthy and challenging if they are struggling with their mental health.

The system also expanded its “tele-counseling” program for online behavioral therapy and mental health crisis services through SUNY physicians, psychologists or nurse practitioners, the press release said. SUNY Upstate Medical University has been a “hub” for students at 10 other campuses to access these services and the system will add SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University as an adjacent hub for five campuses, the press release said. A mental health peer support hotline will also be expanded to cover the entire SUNY system, the press release said.

SUNY chancellor Jim Malatras noted the increasing mental health needs of students due to the coronavirus pandemic and said that the expanded services provided through the Reach Out Mental Health Services Program will help students deal with these challenges, such as anxiety, stress and loneliness.

"This has been a particularly difficult time and it has taken a toll," Malatras said in prepared statement, "so by expanding available student mental health support services -- and shattering the stigma that may be associated with seeking them out -- students will be able to get the support they need, be it a long-term treatment for a specific issue, or when they just feel down and need someone to connect with."