The University of Wisconsin System on Aug. 3 introduced a new online behavioral health tool, SilverCloud, that offers self-guided programs for anxiety, depression, stress, insomnia, and resilience.
The tool is now available to faculty, staff, and students at any time, on any device, and at no cost.
“While the behavioral health of our students, faculty, and staff has always been a high priority for the UW System, the current COVID-19 pandemic has put those needs into even sharper focus,” said UW System President Tommy Thompson. “We are working hard to find ways to provide these vital services to our UW community and this online tool is a great option.”
System experts have been broadly reviewing the behavioral health challenges facing students, the availability of existing services, and the need for additional services. The SilverCloud tool emerged as one of several strategies.
“The Board of Regents has made student behavioral health a top priority,” said Regent President Andrew S. Petersen. “We are pleased that SilverCloud will be available to our students, staff, and faculty during the upcoming academic year, and we look forward to additional recommendations from our campus and system experts.”
In April 2019, a UW System report showed a 55 percent increase in demand for behavioral health support since 2010. That report, in conjunction with other behavioral health indicators, led the system to create three work groups that focused on identifying solutions and approaches to mitigate the growing behavioral health needs of the UW community.
One work group reviewed crisis management services for students at risk of suicide or self-harm. A second looked at targeted interventions for vulnerable student populations, including veterans, students of color, and LGBTQ+ students. A third studied ways to foster healthy learning environments. The UW System Board of Regents will receive an update on this work at its meeting in October.
Based on cognitive behavioral therapy principles, the SilverCloud self-guided program allows individuals to manage day-to-day stressors personally and anonymously using interactive content and skill-building tools.
Studies have shown that online cognitive behavioral therapy can provide an effective form of care for those who are highly motivated and experiencing mild to moderate symptoms. The program can supplement traditional therapy or campus mental health services, while some individuals may use it without seeing a counselor at all.