The pandemic sparked a mass pivot to virtual mental health support services. This shift rendered many of the counseling center’s go-to promotion and engagement strategies ineffective during a time when the need for mental health support is at an all-time high.
When one college began offering virtual counseling appointments at the beginning of the pandemic, they were surprised only a few students had signed up for an appointment, especially amid rising mental health concerns brought on by isolation, the switch to remote instruction, and stress generated by the pandemic.
Instead of seeing this as a sign of low demand for mental health support services, the college asked whether the user experience was the problem. Most of their students were living on campus with a roommate and had no access to a private space. There was nowhere for them to speak privately to their therapist.
After offering empty rooms in the counseling center for virtual counseling, appointments started to increase. For this institution, re-evaluating the student user experience of accessing mental health support helped remove a major barrier to receiving care.
As students increasingly appreciate—and now expect—the flexibility that virtual services provide, they’re relying more on campus leaders to know how to optimize virtual user experiences to reflect student needs and preferences for accessing support.
Failing to provide a positive user experience that meets student standards can result in dissatisfaction, low uptake, and reduced chances that the student will return to re-engage with the service.
To help student affairs leaders get started with improving the virtual student experience, EAB created the Counseling Center Website User Experience Audit, a new service that will evaluate the accessibility, findability, usability, and credibility of college and university counseling center websites.
Want to evaluate the user experience of your counseling center website?
Sign up for our audit to have an EAB expert evaluate your counseling center website and provide recommendations to improve the student experience.